RIAI Simon Open Door 8-15 April 2024

Building is complex – engaging a Registered Architect early on in the process can maximise the potential of your home and add value

Architects Get Involved
Architects Get Involved
Architects Get Involved

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RIAI Simon Open Door 2024: Dermot Bannon MRIAI (Campaign Ambassador), Kathryn Meghen (RIAI CEO) and Wayne Stanley (Executive Director, Simon Communities of Ireland).

About RIAI Simon Open Door

The RIAI Simon Open Door initiative is a collaboration between the Simon Communities and the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI).

This is a unique opportunity to find out from a Registered Architect how you could realise the potential of your home if you are thinking about renovating, extending or building.

In return for a donation of €120, homeowners receive an hour-long consultation with an RIAI Registered Architect to discuss building, renovating or retrofitting their home.

All participating Architects are giving their time and expertise for free. Every cent raised goes directly to the Simon Communities.

The Simon Communities is a network of eight regionally based independent Simon Communities based in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid West, the North West and the South East that share common values and ethos in tackling all forms of homelessness throughout Ireland, supported by a National Office. The Simon Communities have been providing services in Ireland for nearly 50 years. To find out more, visit simon.ie

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) supports and regulates the architectural profession and promotes the value that architecture brings to society for everyone’s benefit. We work to ensure high standards for consumer protection and have over 3,300 Registered Architects in Ireland.

Be inspired

RIAI Award Winner 2023

An Tuí by Karen Brownlee Architects.
Photo by Aisling McCoy
(Inspirational Project)
A stylish and well-design house exterior.

Simon Open Door 2015/16 Initial Consultation

Riverview in Kilmacsimon by Louise Sliney. Completed in March 2019
(Inspirational Project)
A well-designed house interior

RIAI Award Winner 2018

Vaulted House by GKMP Architects.
Photo by Alice Clancy
(Inspirational Project)

RIAI Award Winner 2023

Charleville by Scullion Architects.
Photo by Fionn McCann.
(Inspirational Project)

RIAI Award Winner 2022

Working from Home by Simply Architecture.
Photo by Celeste Burdon.
(Inspirational Project)

RIAI Award Winner 2021

Field, Stonewall, House by Taylor McCarney Architects. Photo by Donal Murphy (Inspirational Project)

We have raised over €1.4 million for the Simon Communities in the 19 years of the campaign.


Emer (Client)

"I arrived at the Architect's office, nervous about might happen. I was seen by a very friendly young (to me!) man. He was a bit taken aback when I produced drawings and a couple of quotes from builders and then asked him for his opinion of my ideas. But he made some excellent suggestions, really listened to what I was trying to achieve and proffered his opinion on it all. He contacted me a few weeks later, as agreed. No - I still have not bitten the bullet - but found the opportunity of an hour of an expert's time really valuable - well done Simon and all the volunteering architects!"

Fergus Donnellan (Client)

"Just a quick note to thank share my experience with the Simon Open Door scheme. The consultation with Ciaran Tobin at OAS Architects was outstanding. Ciaran couldn't have been more helpful. He provided such insight which really got me thinking about how we are designing our extension and renovation. Going through every room in the plans with such detail, he provided excellent advice and was very generous with his time. I will certainly recommend the Simon Open Door scheme and in particular Ciaran Tobin at OAS architects. Such a great cause and the value is unquestionable."

Francis (Client)

"What a fantastic idea the Simon Open Door scheme is. This is the kind of forward thinking we all need at the moment. We wanted an extension on our home and had plans drawn up, which were very good and we would not have really considered using an architect. Reading Sunday Times article I was intrigued and signed up online to the scheme and met with a talented architect a few weeks later who really got us excited about our extension. Now there are two words I would not have put together in a sentence before. Everyone is a winner on this one, Simon gets a much needed donation, we get a visionary extension, and architects and construction sector hopefully get some business."

Nóirín and Tony (Client)

"My wife and myself had a Simon Open Door consultation in Galway this year. We found the discussion most helpful and our Architect was most thorough and courteous and generous with his time and expertise. Suffice to say we are following through with our Architect and we hope to be in a position to proceed with our project in the near future. My wife and myself admire the work of Simon and wish you continued success with your excellent work."

Natasha (Client)

"It was through this very worthwhile Simon Open Door campaign, that I met Gary Mongey of Box Architecture. He was very generous with his time and gave me excellent advice. He shared some really creative ideas including considering the use of polycarbonate plastic sheeting as an inexpensive, efficient building material. Gary had also given me the important advice, that the less you alter the existing buildings, the lower the cost generally speaking. Long may your worthy campaign continue.

Aidan & Mary (Client)

"My wife & I met with our Architect to get advice. I cannot praise them enough. They were extremely nice & helpful even though our project was a very small one. We were with them for over an hour, offered a nice cup of coffee and discussed every aspect of the project, we felt very at ease and they did not mind us asking questions. We got very good & clear advice. I would strongly recommend the RIAI Simon Open Door; it is a great way to get advice on a project. It is such good value and it is for such a good cause. I would have no hesitation to taking part again should I ever have another project."

Sue B, Dublin (Client)

"We participated in the Simon Open Door scheme in 2016 with a view to extending our Dublin 5 three bedroom terrace. While we thought we had an idea of what we could do with the house, Michael Mohan Architects turned all our ideas upside down and were able to give us an idea of what the true potential of extending would be. I would recommend the scheme to anyone who is considering a project on their home as the value for money achieved in spending an hour with an architect will reap benefits to our home for many years to come. It’s great to know that the fee is going to such a great cause as the Simon Community."

Colin Eaton Architects

"Colin Eaton Architects were delighted, once again, to take part in Simon Open Door. We have been doing this for several years now and find it an excellent forum for members of the public to meet an architect without much formality or commitment, whilst at the same time supporting a very worthy charity. Many people might feel it would be too expensive or their project is too small or insignificant to engage an architect. We are always delighted to meet people no matter how small their project and invariably we can show that it is actually too expensive not to get expert advice when planning work to the home. No matter how small the extension or job it is actually the entire house, (and its overall value!) which will be either improved and enhanced or destroyed and compromised.

Simon Open Door therefore provides to the public a wonderful taster of what dealing with an architect is actually like and most people find during the hour consultation that like a restaurant they are free to choose the level of input they require. We hope to continue our involvement with Simon Open Door for many years."

David Moriarty MRIAI

"From the architect's point of view the Simon Open Door is a very challenging, exciting and enjoyable weekend; the array of issues raised is broad and last year I helped those whose house had rooms that were too dark and disconnected to function, I helped a couple decide whether to revamp or just move as the kids had left and the house was too big, whilst another couple had to reorganise their home to suit their retirement. I found that there is always a creative solution discovered through listening and challenging the client & the fact that the meeting is non-committal actually encourages brutal honesty on all parts. There is no question that such a good cause is well worth giving up the weekend for."

Vivian Cummins Architects

"Participating in the Simon Open Door Day over the past three years has been a great experience for our office. It is marvelous to see how during the hour long consultation people who may never have considered using an architect start to see the advantages of doing so and begin to appreciate how it can actually save them money. It has led to new work for our office which is to be particularly welcomed in the current climate and at the same time we are helping with a good cause by supporting Simon."

McIntyre O Shea Architects, Kilkenny

"Every person we deal with is different, so it’s a constant challenge, and this keeps us on our toes. We try not to be fickle – we’re the ones looking to settle down into a steady relationship. Although it’s really all about that one hour, and giving people a taste of what they can achieve, or letting them down gently if they expect us to do it all there and then; remember, there is only so much that we can do in 60 minutes, as every working person can attest! (and we expect to go on few dates before going that far!) Yet we can’t begin to predict what the next person through the door, or through whose front door we cross, will want in that hour.

The only constant is to keep drawing, prompting, suggesting and hope that we can help in some small way – and knowing that we are doing something at the same time for the Simon community."

Seán Antóin Ó Muirí, Fuinneamh Workshop

"We were delighted to be able to participate in the RIAI Simon Open Door 2015 in Cork. The variety of projects presented was very interesting, from people seeking advice on how to remodel their kitchen, to how to approach designing a new house. Very often people were seeking a second opinion on how to address their design queries, thus, it was great to be able to offer design advice during the consultations. Overall we found it to be a very rewarding experience and all the more worthwhile knowing that we were supporting the Simon Community. We look forward to participating in the RIAI Simon Open Door Day in Cork again in the future."

Susan Leahy Architect

"I really enjoyed participating in the 2011 RIAI Simon Open Door and seeing how as little as an hour's consultation with a client can really improve the quality of their house by finding simple ways of bringing in more light and make money for charity at the same time. I look forward to participating again next year."

Robert M Cummins,
Cummins + Voortman Architects & Urban Designers

"Simon Open Door initiative is a way for ordinary people to get to meet an architect in a fairly informal setting while helping a really good cause. By meeting architects people get a chance to see what help an Architect might be able give with their specific problem and what the possibilities are to improve their home. It also lets them see the work of an Architect. Over the years we participated in Simon Open Door at least 10 times and I feel we really helped many people if only in a small way on the day. Many people later came back to us with a project months or years later, knowing that help was available."

O'Donnell Architects

"Galway is bound to throw up another interesting range of projects to discuss this year. House Extension and Refurbishment projects of all sorts were shown to us for Open Day over the last couple of years. It was very enjoyable to go through them all while helping the Simon Community."

Paul Sheeran, Architexture

"Architexture participated in Simon Open Door for the first time last year, 2013, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It is particularly satisfying to speak to people who may not have thought to seek professional advice otherwise and to see them excited about ideas they hadn't even considered. A number of those consultations have developed into full projects for us and are currently ongoing. We look forward to meeting more people this year and guiding them in solving their design problems and challenges, all while helping a very deserving charity."

Eamon Regan B.Arch. MRIAI.

"I would like to state that we at Regan and Associates Architects found it to be an extremely useful and productive exercise both from the point of view of the client and the architect. It affords the opportunity for the Architectural profession to interface more easily with the general public on small scale domestic projects. We would greatly look forward to being invited to participate in the scheme in the future. Many thanks."

Ciarán Molumby & Laura Carroll (Islander Architects)

"The RIAI Simon Open Door is a wonderful cause and we are proud to be involved again this year. It is a galvanising experience to be part of, with the money raised going directly to the Simon Community in their effort to support the homeless.

Although the 2020 event was online, we got a great sense of the potential for each of the properties we consulted on. In many instances, our clients sent us on photos and completed questionnaires to help give us a better sense of their requirements. The fact that our clients were at home allowed for a more immersive experience for all. We looked at a wide range of property types in housing estates, town streets as well as challenging accessibility issues on a hillside location. How to approach the extension of a house was a recurring discussion for many of the consultations, with the topics of orientation and daylight the key areas of interest for our clients.
Fortunately for us, one of our consultations has led to a full commission for a local house extension. It will be interesting to see if this extended lockdown has given people more encouragement to re-engage with the design of their homes & work places to better suit their lifestyle."

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