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Open House London – This Weekend – One Weekend Only
Take a rain check on any plans you’ve made because this weekend some of the city’s most exclusive and secret places will be unlocking their doors to the public for the annual Open House London Weekend.
Celebrating it’s 25th year, the event has become a highlight of the festival calendar. There will be over 800 buildings on show along with neighbourhood walks, architecture and landscape tours, expert talks, heritage trails and children’s events – all for free.
With every single London borough partaking this event offers people a chance to glimpse behind the scenes of their city; to explore and appreciate its buildings, neighbourhoods and open spaces.
However London tickles your fancy there is much to be discovered; the online programme is live and there’s also a useful app you can download. We’ve made note of our favourites below; some famous addresses and others that are less known, mostly because we’re partial to uncovering the hidden gems.
For quintessential London: 30 St Mary Axe, AKA “The Gherkin”
Could any architectural list be complete without making mention of this icon – we think not. This landmark 40-storey office building was completed in 2003 by Foster + Partners and has since become a synonymous feature of the city skyline. Interestingly despite its overall curved appearance, there is only one piece of curved glass on the entire building – the len-shaped cap at the apex. For your chance to marvel at this wonder be sure to arrive early; crowds can be vast.
For a cultural excursion: Buddhapadipa Temple
This Buddhist Theravada Temple in Thai Style is one of only two outside Asia. Originally designed by Sidney Kaye Firmin Partnership in 1980 the grounds cover a monastic area of approximately four acres which includes Uposatha Hall, an ornamental lake, a small grove, a flower garden and an orchard. With its sprawling landscape and beautifully ornate architecture and interiors we think the Buddhapadipa Temple makes for the perfect afternoon escape.
For peace and quiet: Clapham Library
This award winning public library was designed by Studio Egret West and is located in the heart of Clapham on the High Street. It opened to the public in June 2012, completing the mixed-use regeneration scheme for leisure services in Clapham Town. Its architecture is an audacious spiral design where seamlessly connected spaces are intended to reinforce a sense of community spirit. We love its playfulness and of course who doesn’t love the refuge of a library; perhaps this could be your place to restore after contending with morning crowds.
For underground treasure: Crystal Palace Subway
This beautifully designed Victorian relic resembles a vaulted crypt and was originally constructed as a threshold to the central transept of Crystal Palace. Entirely hidden from above there is always a moment of amazement from visitors upon their first gaze. It was originally designed by Charles Barry Junior in 1865 though it fell into isolation during the 60s and has in recent years been closed to the public due to safety concerns. Opening for this special occasion we’d advise you get there early as crowds are to be expected.
For ancient London: Billingsgate Roman House and Baths
These are some of London’s best Roman remains and the only accessible Roman house. It comprises a second century house and a third century bath house built within its courtyard. Originally discovered in 1848 during construction of the Coal Exchange it is a rare survival of an ancient building in situ in the City of London. Access is typically by paid advanced bookings only so we think this is a worthwhile visit for the weekend in order to appreciate the far reaching history of our city.
For an adventure further afield: Ham House
Ham House was originally built in 1610 for Sir Thomas Vavasour, an official in James I’s court, though greatly extended in the 1670s. One of a series of grand houses and palaces built along the Thames it is an unusual complete seventeenth century survival and today is beautifully cared for by the National Trust. The interiors are remarkably ornate and the sprawling grounds similarly so; with an orangery cafe, heritage kitchen garden, second hand bookstore and curated gift shop we think this is the perfect place to lose yourself and your family to for the day.
For garden lovers: Crossrail Place Roof Garden
With all this talk of Crossrail – London’s new east-west rail link, we’re excited that some of it has finally become accessible. The Crossrail Place Roof Garden in Canary Wharf is the first building to open to the public and is located above the new station. The garden celebrates the docklands maritime heritage with a beautiful lattice roof that encloses unusual plants from across the globe. The architecture was designed by Foster + Partners and the landscape architecture by Gillespies; who are holding tours every 60 minutes throughout the day.
Established in 1981 Adrem is London’s original architecture, construction and design recruitment agency.
Specialising in architecture, BIM, interiors, graphics, product and creative support, for 35 years Adrem has been changing careers and growing practices globally.