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.
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 a 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 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.
In 2012 we decided we wanted to modernise our 1980s bungalow.I thought we knew what we wanted to achieve but after a meeting with an Ennis based architect through your scheme ours eyes were truly opened to the potential of the house.We had two follow up meetings before engaging a builder and completing an open plan living space.After my experience I cannot emphasise the importance of the architect. Her knowledge,attention to detail and our budget needs were impressive.
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.
Cummins + Voortman Architects again participated in Simon Open Door in 2013.
It is also a great challenge for us as the one hour allowed means that total focus is required to have any chance of getting to grips with someones home and what advice can be given. But it has been possible to do this effectively and it will be again this year.
It is always remarkable the variation in the problems and the questions that are posed on the day along with the different types of properties and buildings. Several of the consultations have resulted in new projects that have been very successful.
Robert M Cummins,
"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. "
Why Simon Open Door is like Speed-dating
We get one hour to learn about a home and the people who live there, so it feels much like speed dating. In speed dating (I imagine) you need to find out about the personality of that other, both in the information they give, but also how they express themselves, those un-sayable, tacit clues that suggest a lifestyle and a value system. There is no formula here, or if there it is more complicated than I know or can explain.
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.
"From the architects 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 also gave a community centre some ideas on how to link their centre back to the site whilst overcoming operational issues; helped a couple looking for sites for their dream home. 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. I just wish we could do it more often. "
"Just to say I found the whole thing great. It allowed me to initiate a project that I'd be thinking about for ages. The architect….had wonderful ideas and there was absolutely no pressure to follow up on it.
"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."
"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 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.
"Our experience with Simon Open Door was incredibly positive from start to finish. The idea of the Open Door consultation is fantastic; we were exploring ideas for a first build and thought that even if we got basic information from the consultation, it would be worth it because the fee was being donated to a very good cause. The consultation with our Architect surpassed all expectations. He listened very attentively and engaged in a very creative way with our basic idea. In the hour, he generated several ideas for us to consider, gave us information about energy efficient methods of construction and encouraged us to consider some options that we had not been aware of.
"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."
"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."
"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."
"I signed up for Simon Open Door on a whim. There was a guy talking about it on the radio and he was so enthusiastic. I felt it was a good charity. Whatever generosity was involved in our donation, it paled in comparison to the generosity that we received. The architect that we met bowled us over with his time, enthusiasm, creativity. Most importantly he resurrected for us the passion we initially had for our project that lay buried beneath the stresses of a house build. Take a small section of a project and go for it, anything can happen."
"We found the opportunity to bounce some ideas off a good architect over a cup of coffee extremely helpful and we have been inspired now to take matters further – we received a great “return on investment” and would recommend this initiative to anyone who is in the gestation stage of a project.
"Many thanks for the excellent initiative of Simon Open Door. I found my meeting very helpful and the organisation of the event was very efficient and professional. The online booking website was very user friendly, the text message reminders were useful, the request for information from the architects prior to the meeting ensured the best value out of the session and the follow up thank you letter updating on the funds raised was very much appreciated. All in all, an excellently organised event."
"We availed of Simon Open Door and were really impressed with the variety of views we got from three different groups of Architects. Congratulations to the RIAI for their ongoing participation in such a good cause. With all the woes in the construction industry I hope the project proves to be a good shop window for them. Certainly we went looking for ideas, got plenty, but also came away with the view that when we proceed with our work we will employ an architect, hopefully one of the guys we met through your project."
"I was initially drawn to the Simon Open Door 2010 project as an innovative and imaginative way to support a most worthwhile charity. I spent a very interesting hour with my chosen architect, discussing a project which I had been developing for the last year. She was extremely helpful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and I left with the confidence to finally realise a dream.
I would thoroughly recommend anybody with plans to build, to take part in this wonderful initiative."
"We signed up for the Simon Open Door when we were stuck in the planning process on a house renovation and extension project. We got some very helpful suggestions from BKD which we gently introduced to our Architect who made some amendments at the Additional Information stage. I have no doubt the ideas we took from our one hour session were instrumental in us getting our permission from An Bord Pleanala. We now have the work done and we're delighted with the results"
"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!
"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
"The day itself was great fun and seeing
so many completely different projects in the day was a real challenge. I
wholeheartedly recommend the day to both architects and potential clients
alike and it's great to feel you given something back to society
"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 lead
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
Thank you for the opportunity provided by this
fundraiser to tap into expert advice whilst at the same time helping the
Simon Communities of Ireland. Every aspect of Simon Open Door 2008 ran smoothly
and I received an excellent service from Lester Naughton in Galway, over
and above anything I could have expected. With such goodwill I believe all
the participants will benefit from the experience. It's a win/win.
"It was a pleasure, Eimear.
I donated to two different architects;
David Moriarty, Collis Sands House, Tralee.
Brian & Barbara Carey, in Tarbert.
Both were excellent in their advice & personal interest.
It was a hugely valuable experience,
thank you so much for facilitating this possibility,"
"We got a lot out of our meeting with architect Alleyn Chambers. To be honest we were not sure what to expect but Alleyn was great and had lots of ideas for our extension and as a result of our meeting we think we will go with one of his suggestions.
Alleyn spent the full hour with us and really was brilliant.
So thank you very much for facilitating the meeting, we would not have met with an architect if it was not for your campaign."
"I would just like to thank you and your organisation, thanks to this wonderful scheme I have met an amazing architect and I hope to continue to work with him, I will certainly be recommending open door to everyone.
I also want to commend your organisation for the wonderful work you do and I will certainly be making future contributions as and when I have the funds."
"Thank you - we enjoyed meeting Barry Norman on Saturday and noted his good advice. It's a worthwhile scheme for everyone, I think."
"This is a brilliant initiative and we have and will wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone we know! We gained a lot from our discussion with Ronan Rose Roberts.
Good luck for the future with all the hard work you do for the homeless."
"My sincere thanks to all who organised this event. I benefitted hugely from it and am only too happy that the proceeds are going to the Simon community. I admire the work you all do and wish you all well."
"As always our session was more helpful and the architect very generous with his time and input. It's a great scheme, keep it going!"
"We got some great information from Noel, and found him to be extremely informative and helpful. We were also delighted to support the Simon Community, we greatly admire the services you provide."
"I was thrilled to have got the opportunity to partake in the Simon Open Door 2016. I thought it was such a brilliant idea and so worthwhile,while at the same time giving and helping to a great cause.
Our consultation went well, we would have loved more time but got a few good tips from the architect. Good food for thought overall!
I would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about renovating or building in the future,or just to get some wonderful ideas."