Access all areas! Open House Belfast.

I got out of work on Friday afternoon and popped around the corner from my office to the (mostly) newly refurbished Bedford House.

My reason was that I'd spotted on Facebook that the 9th Floor, which has been completely stripped out, was open to the public for a couple of hours. I was fairly certain there would be some great views, and I might get an interesting photograph or two to share with you.

The only other place you'd get better view across the city centre is the former tallest building on the island of Ireland - Windsor House, on the opposite side of the street. It's also being renovated having been acquired by the Hastings Hotel Group.

Click here for the Top 20 tallest buildings in Belfast.

I'm a member of Ards Camera Club, and during one of last seasons lectures we had a local photographer called Joe Laverty speak to us about his architectural photography. He works for an organisation in Belfast called Place.

Planning Landscape Architecture Community Environment
PLACE is an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the making of great places across Northern Ireland. PLACE is composed of a multi-disciplinary team combining expertise and extensive experience in architecture, town planning, visual art, curation, design, social science, education, research, community engagement and event management.

Place is involved in a local initiative called Open House Belfast, which allows the public access to buildings and spaces in the city that they wouldn't otherwise be able to access. 

Following the Place Facebook Page is how I became aware of the access to Bedford House. I'd mentioned it to a few people in work, and one chap was interested, so we registered and went for a visit.

On arrival, our friendly greeter took us up to the 3rd Floor, and said that we could have a look around the brand new offices of engineering company Arup. This was a little unexpected. We'd left work at 5pm, and so there were still people working in the Arup office while random strangers were walking around marvelling at the super-modern office space.

A lot of this building was like a cross between '2001 : A Space Odyssey' and 'Tron : Legacy' .. which is no bad thing if you want my opinion.

We were treated to a coffee at a machine right between their Reception area and their VR suite (yes, Virtual Reality). Probably for visualising or walking clients through designs. Awesome.

I shot a few photos in the kitchen area while we finished our coffee. It's a great little break-out area for getting away from your desk for some food.

So that was enjoyable, but since we'd left it late in the day, and the 'tour' ended at 6pm, we took the lift to the 9th floor.

It's sort of odd being in such a raw space when you see what a fantastic office it can be turned into. That's why we have architects and interior designers though.

So, to the views..

Looking West along Bedford Street towards the Dublin Road and beyond.

Looking South at the Belfast City Council's Cecil Ward Building with it's impressive atrium. You can walk in the front door and look straight up and out the glass roof 6 or 7 floors above. The buildings look a lot more impressive from 9 floors up than from street level.

Looking East toward Donegall Square, with the familiar copper roofs of the City Hall, Robinson & Clever, and Scottish Provident buildings. Cave Hill in the distance there. Click to see what else you can make out..

So, that was about 45 minutes of my day, squeezed in between work and a NI Photographic Association adjudication event back in Ards. 

If you know there's a building or place you might enjoy a good nosey around, why not follow the links at the top of this blog and see if anything takes your fancy. Access is usually free!

And if you liked the blog or my photos, follow me on Facebook for a notification of the next exciting installment.