Open House London, a celebration of the buildings, places and spaces we live and work in, returns on 19 and 20 September. More than 700 buildings across the capital will open their doors to the public this year and the diversity is breathtaking. As well as award-winning homes and iconic skyscrapers, you will find pumping stations and sports centres, community gardens and a dredger.
Open House also includes a host of walks, talks, tours and cycle rides. And best of all, everything is free.
To save you having to pour over the programme (although part of the fun is seeking out hidden treasures opened up for the festival), we’ve picked out an event in each of our areas for you to enjoy.
Bloomsbury – McCann London Offices, 7-11 Herbrand Street, London WC1N 1EX This Grade II listed building is a rare (possibly unique) example of art deco architecture applied to the building of a multi-storey garage. Built in the 1930s as a Daimler car hire garage, it features an eye-catching steep ramped access.
The building is now used as an office by leading advertising agency McCann, who will be offering guided tours of the building.
The Golden Lane Estate is both literally and metaphorically overshadowed by its hulking brother, the Barbican Estate. Comparisons are relevant as both estates were designed by the same architects, Chamberlain, Powell & Bon.
The Golden Lane Estate opened in 1957, six years before its neighbour, and although less celebrated has its own virtues. The Grade II listed estate is an early example of modernist architecture but is less brutal than the Barbican and its mainly low-rise design gives it a more comforting, domestic feel.
Once described as ‘a supermodel version of a dalek’, the BT Tower celebrates its 50th birthday this year. For many years, the Post Office Tower (as it was then called) was the tallest building in the UK and up to 4,000 people a day would visit its viewing tower. It even had a revolving restaurant and cocktail bar on the 34th floor – the high point (literally) of 60s chic.
Sadly, it has been closed to the public since 1980 but access is available by ballot during Open House. A pop up revolving restaurant will also be opening later in the year.
Not strictly on the South Bank, Culture Crawl is a 15-mile fundraising night walk across London that gives walkers the chance to experience some of its culture, art and architecture in an unusual and an uplifting way.
The walk is in aid of Maggie’s, a charity that provides free support for people affected by cancer. As well as taking in some of the capital’s most inspirational buildings, those taking part will get the first look at Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s new sculpture at the Royal Academy of Arts, before it opens to the public.
Walkers are asked to commit to raise £200 for the charity.
Open City takes place on the weekend of 19 and 20 September 2015. All events are free. events.londonopenhouse.org