Dereliction to Design Box: Iconic red phone box to be transformed

13 November 2023

The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) has announced its adoption of a derelict red telephone box in the heart of Belfast, and the upcoming transformation of this beloved icon into a captivating public gallery space. Known as the 'RSUA Design Box,' the winning entry of the RSUA/JP Corry Early Career Architects Design Competition – ‘Please replace the handset and try again’ - was submitted by Julian Manev in collaboration with James Boyd, and Erl Johnston.

Paul McAlister, RSUA President, Ronnie West, JP Corry, Julian Manev, Member of the winning team

RSUA and JP Corry challenged early career architects across Northern Ireland to present innovative proposals for the repurposing of the neglected telephone kiosk located on North Street, at the junction with Waring Street. After careful consideration, the judges chose the Design Box for its clarity, simplicity, and thoughtful adaptation to the unique challenges of the location.

Current condition of the red phone box on North Street at the junction of Waring Street

Ciarán Fox, Director of RSUA commented "We were impressed with the range of talented submissions we received for the competition, but the winning entry stood out for its potential to contribute to the vibrancy of Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. We look forward to seeing the transformation of this dilapidated phone box into a visually striking gallery that will showcase collaborations with various organisations and enhance the city's artistic and cultural landscape."

The Design Box hopes to give a new lease of life to the beloved icon whilst also acknowledging its original purpose of communication. Members of the public will have the opportunity to engage with the Design Box's content at all hours, as it will serve as a platform for round-the-clock design communication.


Julian Manev, from the winning team, expressed his gratitude and enthusiasm for the upcoming project, "I am honored to be part of the winning team and delighted that we will soon see the ‘RSUA Design Box’ come to life. I hope the transformation of the phonebox into a unique gallery space, with an annual programme of monthly displays, will be a fantastic addition to the area and hopefully spark the revitalisation of many more of these derelict kiosks.”

Ciaran McConnell, Managing Director, JP Corry said, “JP Corry is committed to supporting this emerging generation of architects to deliver exciting, innovative projects in Belfast and across Northern Ireland. We’re really looking forward to working with RSUA and design team to make this project special.”


The RSUA acquired the telephone kiosk as part of the BT ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ scheme and will work in collaboration with Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District to implement the transformation of the phonebox as well as the surrounding area in the coming months.