Open House London (17th and 18th September)
Open House London, now in it’s 18th year, is London’s largest architectural showcase. Over 700 buildings of all types and periods open their doors to the public this weekend to celebrate the best of the capital’s buildings, places and neighbourhoods.
With architects homes, eco and retrofit buildings, tours of major regeneration projects, landscape projects, government buildings, historic landmarks and towers, major infrastructure sites and more all available to explore over one weekend, it is a great way to find out how good design works – and to have a good ol’ nose!
Eco House Monmouth Road (Gap House), 28D Monmouth Road W2 4UT
Built on a narrow 8ft site on a stucco-clad West London Street, the Eco House – otherwise known as the Gap House – is a family home designed to reduce the carbon footprint of its residents. Originally an alley between two listed buildings, the House was completed by Pitman Tozer Architects in 2007, and aside from maximizing the use of minimal space and abundance of lovely cubic forms, the house is also obsessively eco-friendly, with ground source heat pump heating and intelligent rainwater harvesting.
National Theatre, South Bank SE1 9PX
Taking the Breton brut grey concrete aesthetic as its cue, the National Theatre is a key work in British modernism. Completed by Denys Lasdun and partners in 1967 and refurbished by Stanton Williams in 1997, the Grade II listed building incorporates three major theatres and stands out like a blocky grey monument to the modernist movement against the Southbank skyline.
11 St Andrew’s Place, Regents Park NW1 4LE
Designed in 1959 and completed in 1964, the modernist façade of the Royal College of Physicians is undoubtedly one of London’s most important post-war structures. Grade I listed, the college was designed by the late Sir Denys Lasdun, an award-winning architect who, a year before his death in 1996, made some seamless additions to the building, in the form of the Council chamber and Seligman Theatre. The interior spaces are soaring and airy and the exterior in all its clean-lined simplicity, comes coated in white tiled mosaics.
120 Fleet Street EC4A 2BB
Set like a gigantic glassy ocean liner in the erudite surrounds of London’s Fleet Street, the ex-Daily Express building is the best British example of the Art Deco style. Designed by Sir Owen Williams and Robert Atkinson in 1932, the foyer was recently restored to all its 1930’s splendour. Whilst the exterior is all steel, glass and elegant curves, inside exploding geometric shapes come in high-shine shades of gold and silver.
Lloyd’s of London, One Lime Street EC3M 7HA
Sometimes known as the inside-out building, Richard Rogers designed the Lloyds building in 1978, 8 years before its completion in 1986. A key example of British High-Tech architecture, the Grade I listed building channels all its stairways, elevators, lifts and power in exterior arterial structures – a feature never before seen on such a grand scale. Since completion, Rogers has perennially introduced sustainable features to the structure in order to improve energy efficiency.
85 Swains Lane N6 6PJ
Perched high over North London’s Highgate Cemetery, 85 Swains Lane is an incongruous addition to the leafy surrounds of this corner of the city. Angular, glassy and built back in 2007, the award-winning house is spread over four expansive floors. Stirling Prize nominated architect Eldridge Smerin’s façade echoes the monumental masonry of the cemetery, whilst the exterior swathes of glass allow plenty of light to wash over the polished concrete interior.
The Berresford House, Brooklyn, Lodge Road, Bromley BR1 3ND
Built by architect Ivor Berresford on a £2,500 mortgage back in 1958, the Berresford House is a forward-thinking, cedar-clad example of post-war modernism, in a domestic setting. Located in a wooded outcrop of Bromley in Kent, the house, with its sliding doors, walls of glass and sleek timber frame, has recently been listed and has resisted radical change throughout it’s fifty year lifespan.