Open Belfast - A Design Competition for Early Career Architects

26 October 2021

JP Corry and RSUA launch the 2021 Early Career Architects Design Competition: Open Belfast

The RSUA/JP Corry Open Belfast Design Competition, in partnership with Belfast City Council, challenges Early Career Architects to generate ideas for the meanwhile use of a key site in Belfast City Centre to herald a new era of increased activation of open space in the city.

The competition will seek to demonstrate that Belfast city centre is open for people to socialise and have fun, that is it open for business and visitors. Equally it will seek to demonstrate that the city is open to change to address our Climate Emergency and to support vibrant and inclusive city centre living.

Belfast’s Bolder Vision is currently out for consultation and this competition challenges early career architects to reflect some of the themes emerging from that strategy. In particular, to explore how underutilised space could be made playful for people of all ages, how the city centre could accommodate pockets of nature or how new social spaces could be created.

The aim is to instigate a project that can be delivered relatively quickly to help test out concepts, get public feedback and inform the longer-term plans for the city centre.

In parallel RSUA will seek the public’s views on what social, green and fun  provision they want across the whole city centre using #OpenBelfast. This is open to anyone including architects at any stage of their career. Architecture students will be encouraged to participate.

This competition is open to early career architects either living or born on the island of Ireland.
‘Early career architect’ is being defined as any architect who has been actively in work as an architect for less than 15 years. This is in recognition that for many people, especially women, the journey after qualifying as an architect is not a straight run of employment without any interruptions.

The competition is open to early career architects working in all sectors not just those in private practice. Early career architects can collaborate with each other to enter the competition.

Depending on level of experience that the winning architect or architects have ,the judging panel may request that an experienced architect is brought into the team as a mentor.

As this competition is focused on supporting creativity and imagination we have aimed to keep the brief very open.

The intervention(s) should be designed on the basis of…
  • Goal: Create a distinctive Belfast experience centred around nature, social interaction and fun in the city centre.
  • Delivery timeframe: Your project must be deliverable by summer 2022.
  • Budget: For the purposes of the competition the total budget for the project, including professional fees, is £120k. This should also take account of maintenance costs for a period of 2 years. Further funding may become available and it would be beneficial if proposals could be readily scaled up.
£20k of this budget will be provided by JP Corry by way of materials. The implementation of the project is subject to a range of approvals by Belfast City Council.
  • Temporary: The intervention(s) should be designed to be in place for a maximum of two years. In the longer term, consideration should be given to how the structure/interventions/materials could be relocated to other parts of the city on sites awaiting full scale development.
  • Circular economy: How will the elements of your intervention(s) be re-used, repurposed or recycled when no longer needed in their current form
  • Practicalities: Your design should take account of the weather, the risk of injury, the risk of vandalism and minimising disruption during the delivery phase.
  • Location: The site for the project is on Corporation Street in Belfast city centre.  Previously a social security office was situated on the site and there is work progressing to bring this site forward with a housing led regeneration approach in the near future.
Site location


To enter the competition you must submit your concept design and provide a written statement as follows:

  • Visual – Submit a range of images/drawings to best convey your idea/concept for an intervention(s) that meets the brief.
  • Explain – In less than 1,500 words propose a name for your project and how your project will meet the brief
  • Display – Identify a lead image plus two supporting images for display at the showcase and provide a 100 word summary of your proposal.


The prize will be to develop your concept with the client, Belfast City Council, and to deliver the project. Professional fees will be agreed after the competition but will not be above £30,000.

If the project does not proceed, the winner picked by the judging panel will receive a prize of £1,000 courtesy of JP Corry. All entrants will be showcased by RSUA and Belfast City Council.


To register, please email Jude Faloon ( You will be issued with a unique registration number which will ensure that the submissions are anonymous for judging purposes.

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