Open House: through the keyhole of Dublin's most iconic buildings

Some Open House events book out almost immediately: here’s our pick of doors you can still get behind this weekend, from halls of justice to private homes

If architecture is your thing, or maybe you just enjoy having a potter around buildings that don’t usually let you in, then the many Open House events happening this weekend might satisfy your yearnings. Not only are iconic buildings hosting special tours, but smaller, private dwellings transformed by ingenious design will also open their doors to the traipsing public.

Have a meta moment and check in to Facebook on Facebook while on a tour of the building’s international headquarters at Grand Canal Dock (pre-booking necessary). Frank Gehry is one of America’s most famous architects and these offices were designed by his firm in 2014 to reflect Facebook’s “open culture”. Note the soaring glass facades which allow us to look into their business, for a change.

On Saturday and Sunday, there will be walking tours of Trinity College, and in Temple Bar, local resident and journalist Frank McDonald will explore the successes and failures of urban regeneration. Leaving from Christchurch, another walking tour will examine the Architectural Legacy of Guinness in Dublin.

If you fancy a nosey around someone’s own Grand Design, make like Kevin McCloud and head to 14 Park Terrace in The Coombe or 4 St Declan’s Terrace in Marino. There you can cast aspersions on the owners’ bold ambitions for light and glass – before making for the Credit Union for a few bob for your own inspired extension.


The 20th century façade of 9/9a Aungier Street reveals nothing of its interior, but step inside and see the remains of a house surviving from 1664 with an original staircase, roof structure, medieval-style timber-framing, and original paint and plaster finishes, which pre-date Georgian Dublin by more than half a century. Or visit a three-room Iveagh Trust Museum Flat on Patrick Street, which was once the 1907 home to the Molloy Family of eight.

So Casino means “small house”? Tell that to De Niro. The architectural masterpiece, the Casino at Marino was designed in 1759 as a garden temple for James Caulfeild, first earl of Charlemont, by renowned architect Sir William Chambers. Inside the 18th-century tardis, marvel at the genius of its 16 rooms, and there will be a geometry workshop exploring the Golden Ratio in nature, art and architecture through the Fibonacci sequence.

Head down towards Phoenix Park and take this opportunity to explore the iconic Criminal Courts of Justice building in its quieter moments when it’s emptied of its usual terrifying frequenters: the lawyers.

In modern Dublin, everything is where something else used to be. In 1815, Grangegorman saw the opening of the Richmond Lunatic Asylum. Nowadays, St Brendan’s is the smaller psychiatric hospital in its place, and the site is in the throes of redevelopment by DIT Grangegorman, with the winner of Irish Building and Design Award 2016 taking pride of place in the middle of it all. Walking tours will take place over the weekend.

If you want to see Grangegorman from another angle, Home on the Grange is an ongoing public art project which offers a “sauntering” art exhibition and an evening of music and stories through houses, flats and squats of the neighbourhood.

Outside the city centre, dlr Lexicon will be open on Sunday in Dún Laoghaire. Go inside and see how you really feel about the award-winning structure – take in the tall sea window, which offers a portrait view of the sea and passing ships. On Saturday, there will also be a walking tour of Dún Laoghaire Harbour to explore the relationship between architecture and water.

And finally, who doesn’t love a big beautiful bridge – in music, metaphor and ordinary life? Starting at the Millennium Bridge, Sunday’s two-hour walking tour will take you along the Bridges of the Liffey while your host, former city engineer Michael Phillips, explains the how, when and why of each construction. Feel free to shout “Take it to the bridge, Michael!” whenever there’s a lull. (You probably shouldn’t.)

- For full details on Open House Dublin 2016, see