The annual chance to peer inside other people’s buildings returns from this weekend, with some 650 venues taking place in this year’s Open House London. Normally crammed into a single weekend, this year they are spreading out over a 9-day programme so there’s more time to see more places.
Most of the pre-booked places were snapped up, as usual, on the day the booking went live, but that still leaves something around 600 venues across the entire of London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London to visit, from private homes to churches, industrial buildings and modernist blocks.
Last year, the Open House event went largely online, but this year 95% of the events are in-person, back the way it used to be when an average of 250,000 people took the opportunity to go through those private doors.
Apart from the obvious — peering behind normally private doors — and the larger architectural remit, Open House also aims to show off the architecture of the whole city, away from the grand central London buildings.
That’s important as local gems exist all across London and are often overlooked by tourists visiting London. They’re also often not noticed by locals, as we all tend to become a bit blase about what we see every day and don’t always realise that there’s an art-deco gem on the high street or an amazing modernist church down that side road we don’t have a reason to walk down.
Open House reminds us of what’s around us.
Amongst the many buildings that will be open, one may be open for the last time under its current use – that’s City Hall next to Tower Bridge. Later this year the GLA and Mayor of London will decamp to the Royal Docks and the City Hall building will be empty. So this year is the last chance to see the building as the heart of London’s democracy. That’s one of the venues you need to book tickets for here.
The full list of Open House London venues is here.
As usual, all the tours and visits are free.