App Review: Open House London 2011

By M@ Last edited 89 months ago
App Review: Open House London 2011

Everyone's favourite architectural event has produced its first app. It's called, simply, Open House London, and is available in the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad. Get in quick, though: it's free but for a limited and undisclosed period.

Sorry Android users. Foiled again.

The annual event returns on 17-18 September, with over 750 participating buildings – from ancient churches to shiny skyscrapers. All are free to visit, although a few require prebooking.

One of the joys of the festival is planning your strategy. Some will want to visit just a handful of key buildings, others (like us) try to pack in as much as possible over the two days. Careful scrutiny of the brochure or website ahead of the weekend is recommended.

But now there's another way to plan ahead, or navigate on the weekend itself. The new app includes details of all 757 venues, including maps and opening times. You can browse by several categories, including architect, type of building, period of building and area.

It's a handy little app to have in your holster for September, but don't expect much more than a data dump from the web site. There are some obvious and simple tweaks that might improve the utility. For example, displaying pins selectively for venues open on Saturday, Sunday or both (or using different colours) would help with planning. And, of course, there's plenty they could develop into future versions, such as route suggestions based on multiple inputs (e.g. I'm interested in Georgian and Victorian buildings in Camden, Islington and Hackney, but only on Saturday...what can you do for me?).

We're perhaps being a little over-critical, though. For the vast majority, who'll only want to see a few places, the app is a perfectly serviceable means of finding out what's nearby. It's a sturdy starting point from which to build more sophisticated guides for future years.

Those without smart phones (or who, like us, enjoy scribbling in the margins, constructing strategies and contingencies) can order a brochure for £6.50, or pick up a free copy from selected libraries.

Open House London, for iPhone and iPad, is available from the iTunes store and is FREE for a limited period. Oh, and it's developed by a company called Woobius, whose name we thoroughly approve of.

Last Updated 12 August 2011