Life isn’t all about opportunities to get to know London better. So once a year over 800 public and private buildings open their doors and I queue for a while to view some of them. Three weeks ago created a new spreadsheet in Google Docs and began working through the listings onopenhouselondon.open-city.org.uk.
My first suggestion for Open House London is that it MUST happen on more days of the year, over more weekends. I’m not necessarily an ‘architecture nut’, but I love some great architecture when I see it (I really like art deco and brutalist!). I don’t know anything about architecture, but I have some favourite buildings and often stop to to stare at a beautiful piece of architecture.
Open House is a wonderful annual event to get inside the most renowned, secret and brilliant buildings throughout all boroughs of London; the Shard, Royal Albert Hall, BT Tower, various TfL and unopened Crossrail stations to private houses that are considered architecturally interesting or unique.
This year I visited a small handful of buildings of various types: Billingsgate Roman House & Baths (history), Hidden House Chelsea (2011, Grand Designs), Portcullis House (Houses of Parliament, 2001), and most exciting, Battersea Powerstation — £10bn+ still in development.
Billingsgate Roman House & Baths
Of course the most interesting venue to get to visit was the site of the Battersea Power Station development. Known to me from my teens as the cover of Pink Floyd’s Animals, I quickly learned of it’s significance to the city and have a lot of affection towards the magnificent building. As soon as the building was added to the billing of the weekend event, I instantly completed the form to get a place on the tour. The £9bn development has properties ranging in price from £800,000 (1-bed) to £4m for a four-bed, and rumoured prices of £40m for the penthouses. A handful have been completed and some shop units are in place, at a hefty price for a coffee (I paid over £3 for an Americano!).
I’ve already added to my calendar the buildings and properties I need to apply for a ballot for in order to visit next year!