Open House 2021 goes outdoors with cycle rides and boat trips

Guided tours of the capital also feature in this year’s programme, as well as envy-inducing homes

Having been forced to go virtual by the Covid-19 virus last year, Open House is back with limited site visits this year.

Online tours and outdoor events will also feature at this year's annual weekend of free architecture tours and events organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation.

"When we think about architecture, we probably do imagine interior spaces or the outer facades of buildings," says Nathalie Weadick, director of the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF). "But, as this year's programme really demonstrates, it is also about our city and green spaces and how we live and move around them."

The Open House event, which has been linking people to the architecture of their capital city for 16 years, runs from 15th to 17th of October.


It’s a wonderful programme this year, comprising cycle rides, boat and bus trips, and guided tours of Georgian Dublin, Temple Bar, the Liberties, Kilmainham, the Monto and docklands. Events such as tours by Valerie Mulvin of Temple Bar or of Grand Canal Dock by James Pike, along with Ciaran O’Connor’s story of the restoration of the glasshouse in Glasnevin’s botanic gardens, among other tours by architects and historians, promise to be great and informative.

However, the in-person events are always over-subscribed, so most people will be watching films, doing self-guided tours and virtually viewing buildings. A positive in this is that you will avoid the usual jostling to see inside houses and can instead view them from your mid-century armchair. This year they include homes by Brennan Furlong Architects, Steve Larkin and Robert Bourke Architects, among others, and all are worth viewing. Plus there is an office by Lawrence and Long.

The virtue of virtual viewing is wider accessibility, as highlighted by Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan, who said at the launch that this year’s programme will reach “an even broader audience”.

“One of our focus points for the 2021 Open House Dublin programme and the IAF is accessibility,” says Weadick. “Many people can feel excluded or marginalised by the built environment. Post-pandemic it is time to start re-thinking how we design experiences and public spaces to remove barriers where possible to ensure a welcome for all. This year we have looked at opportunities to make Open House Dublin more accessible and more open and will continue to strive for this in all our programming going forward.”

Irish sign language interpretation will be available at tours and events and a collaboration with the AIRA app provides access to visual information for blind and low-vision people.

Naturally, the wider accessibility is also geographical, with the diaspora being able to see what is happening at home.

All events are free. For the full programme see

Six things to do without booking at Open House 2021:


The extension and renovation of a house in Killester, north Dublin, Placencia, which overlooks a green to the front and the Dublin-Belfast railway at the back. Brennan Furlong Architects & Urban Planners show how to bring in lots of natural light and create a sleek, but warm and animated interior, using terrazzo floors, white brick walls, a patterned ceiling and timber divides. An online tour will go live on October 15th.

Thomas Street

A five storey open-plan office by Lawrence and Long with basement parking. Preserved oak beams and brick vaults from a pre-1700 Dutch Billy house and tavern were found on the site and incorporated into a 21st century design. An online tour will go live on October 15th.

House at Kimmage

This former joinery workshop, re-imagined by Steve Larkin Architects, was extended to the four sides of its site. The old walls of the workshop walls were reinforced to create an enclosed garden. The house’s relationship with the exterior is reinforced by piers and colonnades that create covered spaces. An online tour will go live on October 15th.

Home energy upgrade webinar

Advice from architects and energy experts who will explain how and why you should upgrade your home’s energy efficiency and the support that is available to do this. From 11am-12.30pm on Sunday, October 17th.

Marino + Fairview Architrek

One of three self-guided Architrek tours for children this one, created by architect Evelyn D’Arcy, visits the neo-classical Casino at Marino and the Marino housing estate, which was inspired by the garden city movement.


There are 10 short films on the architecture of the city, which can be watched all in one go (this takes about an hour). It starts with the Poolbeg towers, and why they are loved; there is a film about the serene, exquisite sacred space at St Theresa's Priory by architect Niall McLaughlin; there are stories about the redevelopment of social housing at Dolphin House and Rosemount Court and why enclosed outdoor spaces matter; and Shane deBlacam provides an entertaining and beautifully honest insight into the creation of a copy of Vienna's Loos Bar in Trinity College.

There is also a film about a skate park in Ballyfermot animatedly described by its users; a tour of the neo-Gothic Chapel Royal in Dublin Castle; the story of Temple Bar by Frank McDonald; plans to create a cultural quarter in Parnell Square by Grafton Architects; and an overview of Dublin’s streetscape by architect Niall McCullough.