Open House London has long been my favourite cultural event in London each year, despite the fact I’ve always been busy working and never got to enjoy the fun myself but it is the concept of it that I love so much. One can enjoy free access to buildings which are not usually open to public, private houses of the rich and famous, churches, museums, schools and offices, and join tours, guided walks and activities throughout the weekend.
The first Open House London started in 1992 and the idea has spread across the world. The found concept however was to provide free access to London’s best buildings as a way of inspiring the public about the benefits of great design and to demonstrate how architecture, urban design, planning and infrastructure – can transform the lives of ordinary people for the better.
London’s skyline is now a unique succession of diverse, exciting shapes, a statement of confidence in visionary architecture and its effect on the spirit of the city and its people. For me this strength more than outweighs some of the less adventurous developments to be seen today
Each year over a quarter of a million people take part in the Open House weekend, visiting over 800 buildings, walks, talks and tours across London and that figure is bound to rise.
No doubt like many others, I have entered the ballot to be allowed into 10 Downing Street but there are so many other buildings to enjoy. Just across the road is the fabulous building that is home to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a building that looks grand enough on the outside but doesn’t even hint at the grandeur on the inside.
Some of the highlights this year include the opportunity to:
- Take a tour of the landmarks and structures that make up London’s famous skyline, including the BT Tower, The Shard and Balfron Tower.
- Explore London’s historic buildings and cultural institutions. Baitul Futuh Mosque, The British Academy, Freemasons’ Hall, to Royal College of Physiciansand Geffrye Museum to are just a few to open their doors.
- Discover hidden gems such as the 18th-century St Leonards Church in Shoreditch and St Margaret’s House.
- Step inside modern-day constructions, from the Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility, to inspiring contemporary buildings such as Brockley House and Ealing Full Metal Jacket.
The contrasts of London’s architecture are the genius of its beauty. No other city in the world brings together so well the historic and the new, or can delight the eye with a range of styles from Corinthian marble to Modernist steel. Open House London celebrates this wonderful melange, and gives Londoners a rare insight into the best of our buildings. I fully support its work and wish it every success. – Boris Johnson, Prime Minister.
Hopefully I will find a few hours free to visit some of the old halls in the City of London or perhaps the magnificent Australian Embassy, Royal Academy, Mansion House or Wilton Music Hall.
It’s not just places in the middle of London, most of the boroughs of Greater London are taking part so wherever you are living or staying in London then there is bound to be something old or new for you to explore on this special weekend.
You can visit the Open House London Website, download an app or purchase a guide book to plan your weekend. Isn’t it great that government, academia, business and private homes open up to sneak a peek at what it’s like inside?