Open House celebrates 25 years of unlocking London’s elusive spaces
Architecture aficionados and nosey parkers will pour through the doors of more than 800 less-accessible London buildings for Open House this weekend. Alongside favourite staples like Renzo Piano’s Shard, the 25-year-old Open House scheme has 200 newcomers on its books. These include a good number of homes, such as the Science Lab in Waltham Forest, a restored and reimagined 1930s building by owner-designer Carlo Viscione; and Barrett’s Grove in Stoke Newington, a slim apartment block with wicker balconies by Amin Taha Architects.
Inspiring workplaces are also on the menu. DSDHA’s HQ for jeweller-to-the-stars Alex Monroe is a Corten steel-clad infill on Tower Bridge Road; while the stylish refurbishment of Connock & Lockie tailors on Lambs Conduit Street is by Benedetti Architects. On a more corporate scale, the metropolitan police’s New Scotland Yard has moved back into its old home, a 1930s neoclassical building on the Victoria Embankment originally designed by William Curtis Green. It has been made fit for purpose by AHMM.
Some of the most intriguing workplaces are the ones that architects build for themselves. In Waterloo, Feilden Fowles has made a bucolic home for itself in the corner of a mixed-use site it developed, Oasis Farm. And up-and-coming firm Selencky Parsons has an entirely cork-clad office in Brockley.
This is the last year for Open House visitors to book a tour of Crossrail’s new stations, before they open for business as the Elizabeth line in December 2018. At £14.8bn, Crossrail is Europe’s largest infrastructure project, masterminded by its head of architecture Julian Robinson. Highlights include Hawkins\Brown’s new Tottenham Court Road station on Dean Street and Weston Williamson’s work at Paddington.
For a more historical transportation experience, there is the ongoing and painstaking restoration of the Old Waiting Room at Peckham Rye station – a high Victorian delight from 1865 by Charles Henry Driver, much of which has been bricked up and forgotten since the 1960s. Restoration is in the hands of architect Benedict O’Looney, a charismatic champion of Peckham’s neglected historic wonders.
This is the silver anniversary of Open House, which was conceived in the British capital in 1992, but now springs up in New York, Dublin, Galway, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Barcelona, Rome, Helsinki, Slovenia and Chicago.