This year’s Open House theme is ‘social’ and explores what it means to live together in cities today. 800 buildings will fling open their doors to the public, alongside a comprehensive programme of walks, tours and talks. For the third consecutive year, all of London's boroughs are participating in the scheme allowing visitors to discover a rich spread of architectural history from medieval to contemporary. But with so much to see, it's worth planning in advance as while access to everything is free, some buildings require pre-booking or entry via a ballot. Here are our highlights:
View from the Shard, entry by ballot only
Renzo Piano's masterpiece lords over London's skyline. Those lucky enough to gain entry through the ballot can travel to level 72, the highest accessible point of the building at a dizzying 800ft/244m above ground.
Bloomberg European offices, entry by ballot only
Check out one of the most sustainable offices in the world. Designed by Foster + Partners, this monumental office houses 4,000 Bloomberg employees. Visitors will be able to look up at a dramatic space known as 'the Vortex' which hovers over the lobby as well as its hypnotic network of spiralling ramps and sculptural walkways.
10 Downing Street, entry by ballot only
10 Downing Street has become one of the most recognisable political buildings in the world. If you've ever wanted to know what goes on behind its famous black door, then don't miss your chance to apply to the ballot.
Willing House (Heatherwick Studio), no booking required
The office of internationally renowned architects Heatherwick Studio will be open to the public for the first time. Visitors will be able to see the in-house workshop where designers experiment with materials as well as casts and models for some of the world's most recognisable contemporary designs including the London 2012 Olympic Cauldron.
Art meets architecture
Red House, no booking required
The only house commissioned, created and lived in by designer, poet and novelist William Morris is a decorator's dream. This quaint domicile is filled with beguiling wallpaper and artworks by Pre-Raphaelites Dante Gabrielle Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones.
ROOM by Antony Gormley, pre-booking required
Check in for a zen experience at Antony Gormey's 'ROOM' which invites visitors to enter 'a giant crouching cuboid figure based on the artist's body' located in a wing of Mayfair's Beaumont Hotel.
Isokon Building (Lawn Road Flats), no booking required
Avant-garde architect Wells Coates would design the first International Style building in London with Hampstead's Isokon Building whose notable visitors included Bauhaus designers Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, artist Barbara Hepworth, novelist Agatha Christie, and a Soviet spy. We recommend getting there early to avoid long queues.
Royal College of Physicians, pre-booking required
This grade I-listed building is one of the most famous examples of Brutalist architecture in London. Designed by British architect Denys Lasdun's (who also designed the National Theatre), the RCP is one of the more softer, elegant examples of the Brutalist style. Inside, visitors will discover an impressive collection of art and artefacts.
2 Willow Road, no booking required
This fascinating example of inter-war design was built by leading Modernist architect Ernő Goldfinger in 1939. The National Trust acquired the Hampstead residence in 1994 and has preserved much of its original character with along with Ernö and Ursula Goldfinger's furniture and modern art collection.
15 and a half Consort Road, no booking required
You might recognise this starry address from the television show Grand Designs. Labelled as 'one of the nation's favourite TV houses', Richard Paxton architects championed innovative space-saving formats such as a sliding bath fitted under a bed as well as an astonishing retractable roof.
Vex House, no booking required
See contemporary architecture espoused with sound design at Vex, a curved house born out of a creative collaboration between Chance de Silva architects and musician/composer Scanner. Both architecture and music take their cue from Erik Satie's 'Vexations' – a looped piano piece that lasts 18 hours. Get there early to enjoy the music of the spheres without the hassle of queuing.
Block house, no booking required
Join an architect-led tour of this dreamy Stoke Newington domicile. Nimtim Architects employed an unusual combination of industrial materials such as cement blocks and warmer finishes such as pastel-coloured tiles and oak to create a one-of-a-kind home.
Gin Distillery, pre-booking required
Open Practice Architecture took a derelict Victorian gin distillery in Whitechapel and transformed it into a spacious family home in a design that was longlisted for RIBA House of the Year 2018. Take a gander around its light-filled kitchen, tranquil garden, and relaxed living areas and see city living at its best.
For more detailed information on opening times and building listings, check the Open House website and online programme.
|What||Open House London 2019|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
21 Sep 19 – 22 Sep 19, Times vary between events
|Website||Click here for more information|