Open House London, the festival of architecture and urban design, offers an amazing opportunity to visit the interiors of some of the outstanding London buildings, which usually may not be easily accessible to the public. Open House forms part of Open-City, an organisation that promotes “the value of well designed places and spaces in making a liveable and vibrant city”, as stated on their website.
Open House London features over 800 venues across London and I greatly recommend to have a good look at their website where you can order the 80-pages Open House Guide, which offers a detailed listing of all the events.
Below I have listed some of the festival's events, which are among my favourites, and which may be of great interest not only to photographers fascinated by architecture but also to those in search of inspiration and new perspectives:
100 Victoria Embankment - Unilever House – situated on New Bridge Street, opposite Blackfriars Station, is a Grade II listed office building in the Neoclassical Art Deco style. The building was originally completed in 1932 and in 2004 it began a significant renovation work of its interiors. In 2009 Unilever House won RIBA award. It can be visited on Saturday between 10 am and 5 pm on a first come basis.
6 Bevis Marks - this is 16-floors building in the City which also features a covered roof top garden with spectacular views. Areas which can be accessed during the Open House are: ground floor reception, levels 10, 11 and 16 - terrace. The building can be visited on Sunday between 10 am and 5 pm on a first come basis.
Some pictures of the building’s interiors can be found on the Bevis Marks website.
30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin) – the famous 41 storey skyscraper in the City of London, which won 2004 RIBA Stirling Prize. The building is accessible on Sunday between 8 am and 5 pm on a first come basis, however the visit is strictly limited to 20 minutes.
Some of the pictures of The Gherkin's interiors can be seen on 30 St Mary Axe website.
88 Wood Street – this is a fully glazed office building arranged as 3 linked blocks with roof terraces, which offer stunning views across the City. Its height varies from 8 to 17 floors. The building is accessible on Saturday between 10 am and 5 pm on a first come basis.
Lloyd's Register Group - 71 Fenchurch Street - where old meets new: Thomas Edward Collcutt (1901) and Richard Rogers Partnership (2000).
The Lloyd's Register's London office was reopened in 2000. It was designed by Richard Rogers Partnership (RRP) whose aim was to integrate the original Collcutt building (finished in 1901) with the new steel and glass construction. This 14 floor building was a RIBA award winner in 2002. It can be visited on Saturday between 10 am and 5 pm.
More interesting facts and some pictures of the Lloyd's Register Building can be found on the RSHP architectural practice website and on the Lloyd's Register webpage, which also features accounts from previous years of Open House events and a useful factsheet.
Dazzle Ship - HMS President (1918), permanently moored near Victoria Embankment, is one of the three surviving Royal Navy Warships from the First World War. In 2014 the ship was covered in contemporary ‘dazzle camouflage’ by the leading German artist Tobias Rehberger, as part of 14-18 NOW, First World War Centenary Art Commissions. The geometrically patterned camouflage was used to confuse enemy U-boat captains during the First World War. The Open House event will offer hourly talks and deck tours with Captain Chris Cooper. The Ship can be visited on both Saturday and Sunday between 10 am and 5 pm.
Broadgate Art Tour - tour led by Broadgate's art curator Rosie Glenn, which aims to provide overview of the collection of open air sculptures by both British and International artists, which can be found on the streets of Broadgate. The tours will take place on Saturday at 10 am, 12 pm and 2.30 pm on a first come basis.
An overview of the Broadgate Art can be found on the Broadgate's website.
Nunhead Cemetery - the Victorian Cemetery in South-East London. Being quite overgrown, with the graves hidden among the trees and bushes, this cemetery has quite a mysterious atmosphere. During the Open House Festival tours of the Cemetery will be organised on both Saturday and Sunday.
Two Temple Place - located near Victoria Embankment, this late-Victorian Mansion built in 1895 is owned by the charity The Bulldog Trust, and is only open to the public during art exhibitions.