Last weekend – like many other people in London – we enjoyed Open House Weekend.
For those unfamiliar with this event, it’s a dedicated weekend in September when hundreds of buildings are open for all to visit and enjoy.
“Open House was started in 1992 as a small, not-for-profit organisation to promote public awareness and appreciation of the capital’s building design and architecture. The intention was to open up London’s splendid buildings to the general public who don’t otherwise have access. We saw this as a way of helping the wider community to become more knowledgeable, engage in dialogue and make informed judgements on architecture.”
London is full of incredible buildings but only a small fraction of the population of London sees the interiors of these buildings regularly – and more is the pity.
Robert Elms, writing in the Open House 2016 Guide, says,
“In this sprawling, twisting, unknowable metropolis, the past and the present, the ugly and the beautiful battle it out within a single street creating a fantastic jumble of juxtapositions, which are the real trademark of our town.”
Whilst this is a predominant feature of many streets in London, it’s equally true of many places throughout the country – and indeed the world.
Wandering through the streets of foreign cities and towns we tend to look up at and enjoy the architecture, yet forget to do so in our own home towns. Taking the time to explore the cityscape seems to be a holiday and a leisure activity and not a regular part of our busy lives.
There were plenty of people on the streets of London last weekend, many of whom were visiting the places on offer through Open House London, but there were many more who weren’t even aware this event was taking place.
Our children should be able to explore and embrace the diversity of this and other cities. The learning – and the potential for inspiring Google/Wikipedia searches and researches – is immense, and enjoyable.
It’s also beneficial to our physical wellbeing – we clocked up over 7 miles of walking around and between the buildings we’d chosen to visit.
Here’s a selection of photos from Day One of Open House – including visits to the Guildhall, Unilever House and City Hall as well the walks along our route.
Gog and Magog: Guardians of the City of London.
Sir Winston Churchill and the Duke of Wellington in the Guildhall.
Virtues of Wellington? And others?
The Crypt in the Guildhall.
The stained glass windows of the City Guilds.
Remembering Sir Thomas More, executed for high treason in 1535.
More stained glass in the Guildhall.
The Royal Coat of Arms, Guildhall, London.
“May he be shamed who thinks badly of it”.
The Guildhall, old and new.
Unilever House – 100, Victoria Embankment; a modern atrium within an Art Deco frontage.
En route from Blackfriars to City Hall. Thames Sailing Barges were taking part in the Totally Thames Festival.
Two views from City Hall, home of the Greater London Authority. The ever-changing view of the City.
The ever-growing city, unrecognisable from a decade ago.
Designed by Sir Norman Foster.
From the Open House 2016 Guide
“Architects in Schools: Primary and Secondary. This annual programme, delivered in partnership with the architectural profession, introduces hundreds of children each year to the world of architecture and urban design through building visits across London and design workshops held in schools”.
For more information,