Open House Weekend Cometh: Book Places Now

By M@ Last edited 43 months ago
Open House Weekend Cometh: Book Places Now

For anyone who loves London, the annual Open House weekend is like Christmas come early. Hundreds of buildings, normally off-limits, open their doors for anyone who's curious. This year's event, on 19-20 September, features over 700 buildings — from skyscrapers to toilets — across most London boroughs. Dozens of architectural walks and talks are also planned.

Most of the venues operate a 'turn up and view' policy. A smaller number have to be pre-booked. Open House is now so outrageously popular that many of the places will have already been snapped up. However, a selection of venues allocate tickets on a ballot system. Register now for your chance to view 10 Downing Street, the BT Tower, a special tour of the London Eye and a mystery bus tour.

If you're not lucky enough to win the ballot, you can still pick from hundreds of other on-the-day buildings. Below, we've selected a few of our own favourites, but be sure to check out the selection for your own parts of town.

All venues are listed on the Open House website, or help support the programme by buying a copy of the brochure.

All photos by the author.

Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell holds many fascinating objects and sights, including this mural in which an heroic worker destroys capitalist London.
240 Blackfriars is a distinctive new office block near Blackfriars Bridge, and should offer good views of the river. This one needs pre-booking.
Drapers' Hall in the Square Mile is one of the more elegant livery halls (several are open). Plus, it's built on the site of Thomas Cromwell's former home, featured heavily in Wolf Hall.
Looking like Tate Modern with windows, and by the same architect, William Booth College in Denmark Hill offers amazing views from its tower. The interior stairwell is ever so slightly scary for those who fear heights.
An icon of Shoreditch, Village Underground is a series of studios built into old tube carriages, and mounted on an old viaduct.
Up on the 39th floor of One Canada Square, you'll find a marketing suite full of impressive models of Canary Wharf. This one needs pre-booking.
Abbey Mills Pumping Station is often called the Cathedral of Sewage. Find it near Stratford, perhaps by walking along the Greenway -- itself one of London's biggest sewers. This one needs pre-booking.
Open House isn't all about buildings. Take a tour of the Hanwell locks, and visit one of Brunel's last big projects -- the point where a road goes over a canal, which goes over a railway.
Shirley Windmill down Croydon way, is impressive and oddly sited in a modern housing estate. Take a tour.
A chance to visit Barbican station's disused platform and see the recently installed garden. Pre-book.
The Fitzrovia Chapel was once part of Middlesex Hospital. It was the only building left standing during the recent demolition (as pictured), but is now surrounded by the modern Fitzroy Place development. This is your chance to see inside the ornate chapel, where Rudyard Kipling laid in state.
Open House weekend also includes dozens of private homes with unusual architecture. 15 and a half Consort Road in Peckham has several unique features, including an open-air living room with sliding roof.
This is the view from 30 Crown Place in South Shoreditch. We recommend it because it's one of the few Open House skyscrapers that does not need pre-booking. And because it's a little bit obscure, you're less likely to have to queue.
Fancy moving around inside an Antony Gormley? This Mayfair hotel room by the sculptor is shaped like a pixellated human figure. Pre-book.
Cody Dock on the River Lea is a wonderful place, with community cafes, art work and an unexpectedly chilled out vibe. Turn up for tours.

Last Updated 14 August 2015