Ok, admit it. We’ve all done it. Who amongst us hasn’t taken a cheeky peak into someone else’s house as we’ve walked past a row of residential building? The urge to look is almost irresistible, isn’t it? However, before you get a reputation as a peeping tom, why not satisfy your curiosity by paying a visit to the world’s largest Open House festival, Open House London, conveniently held in London every September.
Open House London is an annual event which offers free access to hundreds of buildings which are not normally open to the public. The aim of the festival is two-fold; to “bring city-makers – architects, developers, engineers, contractors – and the public together” and to highlight the “benefits of great design”.
Next year’s event is promising to be the largest ever with over 800 buildings taking part in the weekend. This will almost certainly include a large number of the most iconic and renowned buildings in London with past participants including St Marys Axe (The Gherkin), the Foreign House, Senate House and St Paul’s Cathedral to name just four. However the festival is not just about heaping praise on London’s famous architectural icons with the organisers also keen to showcase some of London’s’ lesser known buildings. In the past architectural gems like the incredible Buddhapadipa Temple in Wimbledon, the Great Hall of Bartholomew’s Hospital and the magnificent Crystal Palace Subway have wowed festival goers.
If you need a bit of fresh air during the festival, the organisers have arranged a number of walking tours and details of will appear on the website. A number of talks are also scheduled and these are designed to give festival goers a better insight into some of the architecture on show as well as the ideas and challenges that inspired them.
The event began in London in 1992 and since then the Open House concept has spread around the globe with over 30 cities now hosting events. Open House events are held in Barcelona, Rome, Lisbon, New York, Melbourne, Mexico City, Gdansk to name but a few and the list of participating cities is growing every year.
Amazingly the whole thing is free although you do need to pre-book for certain buildings. For more details on which buildings you need to reserve for, check the Open House London website.
Open House London will take place on the 19th and 20th of September 2020.