Open House London 2010: Selected Highlights

M@
By M@ Last edited 92 months ago
Open House London 2010: Selected Highlights
Container City by FairlyBuoyant in the Londonist Flickr pool.
Container City by FairlyBuoyant in the Londonist Flickr pool.
Swastikas in the LSHTM library, by M@.
Swastikas in the LSHTM library, by M@.
The Limehouse Accumulator Tower by Fin Fahey in the Londonist Flickr pool.
The Limehouse Accumulator Tower by Fin Fahey in the Londonist Flickr pool.
18831_ohatanne.jpg
Blue Fin building by Richard Parmiter in the Londonist Flickr pool.
Blue Fin building by Richard Parmiter in the Londonist Flickr pool.
Village Underground by Megapiksel in the Londonist Flickr pool.
Village Underground by Megapiksel in the Londonist Flickr pool.
Interior of the Masonic Temple on Liverpool Street, by M@.
Interior of the Masonic Temple on Liverpool Street, by M@.
Container City by FairlyBuoyant in the Londonist Flickr pool.
Container City by FairlyBuoyant in the Londonist Flickr pool.
Swastikas in the LSHTM library, by M@.
Swastikas in the LSHTM library, by M@.
The Limehouse Accumulator Tower by Fin Fahey in the Londonist Flickr pool.
The Limehouse Accumulator Tower by Fin Fahey in the Londonist Flickr pool.
18831_ohatanne_1.jpg
Blue Fin building by Richard Parmiter in the Londonist Flickr pool.
Blue Fin building by Richard Parmiter in the Londonist Flickr pool.
Village Underground by Megapiksel in the Londonist Flickr pool.
Village Underground by Megapiksel in the Londonist Flickr pool.
Interior of the Masonic Temple on Liverpool Street, by M@.
Interior of the Masonic Temple on Liverpool Street, by M@.

This weekend, over 700 of London's buildings will open their doors to anyone who wants to nosy. Government property, private addresses, offices, churches, historic sites...if it's in London, it's in the Open House programme. Although some of the sites required pre-booking (e.g. the bleeding BT Tower, which we failed to get tickets for), you only need to turn up on the day for the vast majority. Be aware, though, that you'll probably have to queue for places in central London. The programme is vast, covering all 32 boroughs and the City, but here are our suggestions for a varied weekend of architectural exploration:

Blue Fin Building, Southwark

(Sat/Sun, 10-4pm)

A recent-build office complex behind the Tate Modern that offers stunning and unexpected views of the City (see pic).

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

(Sat 10-5pm)

You've probably seen this hulking art-deco building lurking in the shadow of Senate House. It's the one with golden sculptures of mosquitoes, snakes and parasites running around the upper storey. Inside, you get a tour of several different architectural spaces, including a modern (and impressive extension) and the library (look out for the hidden Swastikas).

Limehouse Accumulator Tower

(Sat/Sun, 1-5pm)

Looking like something wizards might duel atop-of, this Victorian tower once provided hydraulic power for the surrounding docks.

Trinity Buoy Wharf & Container City

(Sat/Sun, 11-5pm)

It might be a bit of a trek for some, but you get three treats for the effort: what some would claim as London's only lighthouse, a 'city' of studio units housed in shipping containers and the 1000-year arts project Longplayer.

Village Underground

(Sat, 10-5pm)

Another example of creating studio space from existing structures, Village Underground is a conglomerate of old Tube trains on a disused viaduct in the middle of Shoreditch.

No. 8 Stoneleigh Terrace

If you're a fan of brutalist/modernist architecture and didn't manage to prebook for the Trellick Tower tour, check out this housing complex behind the Whitington Hospital.

Masonic Temple (Andaz London)

(Sat, 10-4pm)

This one's been on the Open House programme for years, but is definitely worth a visit. It's a richly decorated masonic temple lurking in a back corridor of an ultra-modern hotel. We visited a few months back.

St Anne's, Soho

(Sat, 10-5pm)

A remarkable church with a steeple shaped like a Soyuz space ship. There's a small exhibition on the first floor, reached by a rickety ladder (don't wear a skirt). If you're really lucky, they'll open up the upper levels and belfry.

And we could go on and on... Be sure to get hold of a brochure from selected outlets to help plan your route. The website is searchable, but not so good for serendipitous browsing.

Let us know your own recommendations in the comments.

Last Updated 15 September 2010