London celebrates architecture with Open House

More than 800 buildings, including one nicknamed The Cheesegrater (above right), in British capital London will open their doors to the public this weekend for Open House.
More than 800 buildings, including one nicknamed The Cheesegrater (above right), in British capital London will open their doors to the public this weekend for Open House. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • The police would like you to pay a visit to their offices, but do not be alarmed.

The New Scotland Yard headquarters, which was recently revamped by renowned architects AHMM, just happens to be among more than 800 buildings in the British capital that will open their doors to the public this weekend.

From places of worship to industrial complexes, they help mark architecture festival Open House London's celebration of its 25th year with its biggest event to date.

This year's highlights include an urban farm in Waterloo; One Blackfriars, nicknamed Vase (London's newest skyscraper); and an exhibition tied to Foster + Partners' 50th anniversary at the architects' Battersea studio.

For the first time since its launch, every London borough will be participating in the event, with Kingston upon Thames opening the doors to a number of properties, including a 16th-century conduit house.

Among the household-name buildings and Open House regulars are the BT Tower, William Morris' Red House, the Cheesegrater and the Gherkin.

Four Crossrail stations will also be open to visitors, offering the last chance to see them in relative solitude before they get on track for services next year.


More than 800 buildings, including one nicknamed The Cheesegrater (above right), in British capital London will open their doors to the public this weekend for Open House. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The free event was started by Open City founding director Victoria Thornton in 1992, with last year's edition seeing more than a quarter of a million people visiting properties or attending a walk, talk or tour across the capital.

The concept has also spread internationally, with Open House festivals now held in more than 35 cities across five continents.

Zurich and Stockholm are the latest cities to adopt the concept, holding their first events this autumn.

As well as celebrating architecture, Open House is founded on the importance of the public realm.

"We want Londoners to speak as confidently about their built environment as they do about books, music and art," says Open House director Rory Olcayto.

"Getting the public inside great buildings and visiting places that are well-designed is the best way to do it."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2017, with the headline 'London celebrates architecture with Open House'. Print Edition | Subscribe