ICE shows public that civil engineers transform their lives

ICE partnered with Open House Belfast, an engineering and architecture festival, to put on free tours for the general public

The Silent Valley, including exclusive views from inside the overflow tunnel. Photos by Sarah Joys.
The Silent Valley, including exclusive views from inside the overflow tunnel. Photos by Sarah Joys.

From 21-23 October, ICE helped open the doors to some of Northern Ireland's most interesting buildings and spaces for Open House Belfast, an engineering and architecture festival.

As a festival partner, ICE organised tours of five engineering sites to showcase the city's infrastructure and the role that civil engineers play in maintaining Belfast's quality of life. There was a tour of the historical Belfast Harbour Commissioner's offices, as well as tours of the Lagan Weir footbridge and Belfast Wastewater and Treatment Works. There were also cycle tours of the Comber Greenway, with various stops pointing out the oft-overlooked infrastructure that makes modern life possible.

A day trip to the Silent Valley was another Open House Belfast highlight. ICE Past Chairman Dr Phil Donald took a group of 25 to the reservoir, which has provided Belfast with water since 1933. Thanks to low water levels, visitors were also able to access the overflow tunnel – a rare treat.

Tour attendees were very enthusiastic, with one calling the Comber Greenway tour "simply awesome!" and another describing the Lagan Weir footbridge tour as "very interesting, and a great way to learn something new about Belfast."

Thirty-seven cities around the world currently run Open House festivals, and 2016 was Belfast's second year hosting the programme. It is organised by PLACE, a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting great architecture, design and planning in Northern Ireland.

"Having civil engineers explain how their work benefits society is unique and invaluable," said Richard Kirk, ICE Regional Director. "We look forward to collaborating with PLACE again next year to pique the public's interest and show the value of infrastructure and engineering in Belfast."

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