Each year selected London buildings (private residences, offices, churches, seats of government, libraries, museums etc.) of great historical and architectural value open their doors to public for one weekend. This year’s Open House falls on September 21/22 with a spectacular list that includes the Gherkin, Lloyds, Shard, Battersea Power Station, Erno Goldfinger’s house or the Trellick Tower.
All listed places have free entrance and most operate on a first come basis, which can lead to pretty long queues. We waited for two hours to see the Lloyds building last year, and another hour for Ed Reeve’s Sunken House but it was worth it! This year we’re bracing ourselves for allegedly the longest queue of them all – to see the Gherkin. As well as an ambitious list of splendid private houses. Here’s our shortlist by neighborhood:
30 Cardozo Road | address + info
Designed by Jack Woolley and finalized this year, this ground- and lower ground spread private house will be open on Saturday only, between 10am and 1pm.
Court House | address + info
A lower ground extension with an internal courtyard and large garden, this private residence was designed by Coffey Architects and you can see it on both days between 10am and 5pm.
Around the City:
30 St Mary Axe aka The Gherkin | address + info
Foster Partners – designed iconic skyscraper which dominates the City skyline for already 10 years. You can visit the lobby and the top floor on Sat 8am – 4pm and on Sun 9am – 4pm. Long waiting time granted but it’s a must–see!
Tower 42 | address + info
The City of London’s tallest occupied building built in ’81 and refurbished in ’95 opens its foyer space, as well as the 24h and 42nd floors from 10am –3pm on Saturday.
4 Bayer House | address + info
An example of a post-war brutalist maisonette, 4 Bayer House is part of The Golden Estate, designed by Chamberlin, Powell & Bon (also architects of the Barbican). Originally a social housing, now privately owned but retaining many of its original details and finishes, it will be open on Sun 11am –1pm and 2pm –5pm.
Shoreditch, Hoxton & Dalston:
Waddington Studios | address + info
Recently finished futurist development of artist and photographic studios by Featherstone Young (btw, the same architects who designed our fantastic Shoreditch HQ). Can be viewed on Sun 1–5pm by appointment only.
151 Church Walk | address + info
Elegant contemporary infill development of 4 dwellings on a tight site, one of them occupied by the architects themselves: David Mikhail and Annalie Riches. They will be giving hourly tours on Saturday from 1-5pm (pre–book your spot).
147 De Beauvoir Road | address + info
Contemporary refurbishment, by Scott Architects, of a Victorian terraced private house. Open both days from 10am–5pm, also on appointment only.
15 Buckingham Road | address + info
Another lush Victorian house refurbishment with a contemporary extension, designed by Stephen Donald Architects. You can visit the ground floor and the garden on Sat 10am – 5pm.
Gingerbread House | address + info
New–built private residence designed by Laura Dewe Mathews, with clever use of volumes and daylight, despite the physical constraints of a small urban plot. The architect will be giving 30mins-long tours on Sat 10am-5pm.
The Framehouse | address + info
RIBA award-winning home with timber-framed construction and extensive use of wood and other natural building materials. Designed by Marcus Lee and open for viewings on Sat 10am – 5pm.
24 Bateman’s Row | address + info
RIBA award-winning multi-purpose building in Shoreditch where you can visit its two multi-level residence and the outdoor space. Open Sun 10am – 5pm.
Around Hampstead Heath & Highgate:
2 Willow Road | address + info
Erno Goldfinger’s amazing Modernist home, largely in original condition and including his modern art collection with works by Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Henry Moore and Bridget Riley. Open both days 11am – 5pm, entry via limited timed tickets only (available from house on day, first come basis).
44 Willoughby Road | address + info
New–built private residence and studio designed by Mark Guard Architects as a floating box with integrated gardens on each level and mesh screens for privacy and sun control. RIBA award-winner 2012. Open on sat 1 – 5pm and Sun 10am – 1pm.
Linear House | address + info
Contemporary single storey private residence with classic proportions, modern design and innovative materials. RIBA Downland Sustainability Award Winner 2008. Designed by Clague design practice, the house will be open for visits on Sat 10am – 5pm.
Trellick Tower | address + info
Erno Goldfinger’s brutalist masterpiece, 31storeys high Unite d’Habitation. Originally built in 1972 as social housing, it is now one of London’s most desirable addresses. Open to public on Sunday 10am – 5pm with tours every half hour and opportunity to see the lobby and couple of flats. Yay!
Hidden House | address + info
Good one to end the weekend with is this spectacular new build 2600 sq ft mews house by Hogarth Architects. It has a large basement living space, private night club dance floor, courtyard with a pond and waterfall and many hi-tech sustainable features (air source heat pump, photovoltaics, water recycling etc). Open on Sunday till 6pm.
You also a chance to visit the Battersea Power Station – one of London’s most iconic buildings – before it undergoes a redevelopment (address + info), with architects, engineers and landscape architects present on site. Access to places like 10 Downing Street, the Shard or the London Eye runs on ballot systems.