The Vase
The Vase

I love Open House weekend. My grandfather was an architect who took me to a number of unusual buildings in London, including Lloyds of London. He always taught me the importance of looking up. It’s amazing how much of London you can miss in everyday life.

For the first time in its 25-year history, every London borough is participating in this year’s Open House, with free entry to more than 800 of the city’s most compelling buildings.

Highlights this year include the recently revamped New Scotland Yard; London’s latest iconic tower, nicknamed ‘the vase’; an urban farm in Waterloo; an exhibition by starchitect Norman Foster and the gargantuan Francis Crick Institute at King’s Cross. Almost every building type is represented: government buildings, offices, places of worship, military buildings, livery halls, industrial complexes. There are even a yurt and a medieval barn.

Old favourites are back

Old favourites like the BT Tower and William Morris’s Red House are back in, while City of London icons – the Cheesegrater and the Gherkin – are once again FREE to enter.

The Leadenhall Building, London.
Swiss Tower St Mary Axe Gherkin Swiss and the Lloyds Building

Architectural nerds are well-catered for with serious, thoughtful design. Including a 1930s house in Romford designed by Penguin Pool architect Berthold Lubektin, the controversial Maggie’s Centre at Bart’s and a hipster housing block in Stoke Newington vying for the Stirling Prize.

Barretts Grove
Barretts Grove

Open House is FREE!

By giving free entry to London’s best buildings, Open House champions great architecture and the importance of the public realm. “We want Londoners to speak as confidently about their built environment as they do about books, music and art. Getting the public inside great buildings and visiting places that are well-designed is the best way to do it,” says Open House Director Rory Olcayto.

The Great Barn. Interior, view from south.
The Great Barn. Interior, view from south.

It’s a key date in London’s cultural calendar

As each Open House weekend has come and gone. London’s skyline – and public interest in architecture – has been transformed. Neither the Gherkin nor Grand Designs existed when Open House was launched in 1992. Today, it is a key date in London’s cultural calendar. Last year more than a quarter of a million people visited at least one building each over the weekend.

This year’s Open House is also the last chance to visit Crossrail stations – on pre-booked tours – before they open to the public next year.

In this year’s guide, you can find details of every building to visit alongside articles. Opinions about London’s great architecture and a look back over the past quarter century. To purchase one of the Open House limited edition guides featuring a silver foil anniversary rosette visit the Open City online shop

This year Open House has launched a free app for the first time, for both Android and Apple users. You can view buildings nearby, save favourites to plan their weekend, and filter results by day, architectural type and period.

Open House London weekend takes place on 16-17 September

Open House Weekend. Red House. Credit Elly Bagnall.
Red House. Credit Elly Bagnall.

• Open House London weekend 2017 takes place on 16-17 September
• This is the 25th Open House London weekend. The first was in 1992
• Open House was founded by Victoria Thornton OBE HonFRIBA
• The director of Open House London and parent charity Open City is Rory Olcayto
• Over 250,000 people attend Open House each year

In 2017, there are 800 buildings, places, talks and tours free to all over the two days
Participating boroughs: Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, City of London, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth and Westminster.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram: @openhouselondon

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Author: Marie Ellis

People say write about what you know. So I did. I founded Broke Girl in the City – a smart girl’s guide to leading a fabulous lifestyle on a budget! A career spanning entertainment, bars & nightclubs (and frequenting them), film, music and TV, there isn’t much I don’t know about how to have fun in the city when completely broke.

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