The annual Open House London weekend, which takes place on Saturday September 17–Sunday September 18 2016, gives Londoners the chance to explore behind the closed doors of some of the capital's biggest, most renowned and most secret venues for free this September. This is your chance to explore a bit of hidden London and have a poke around some of London's best buildings.
When is Open House London?
It takes place for one weekend and one weekend only - Saturday September 17–Sunday September 18 2016.
Where is Open House London?
Across the whole of London, with the full programme of architectural venues spanning 30 of the capital's boroughs.
What is Open House London?
An annual celebration of London's architecture and design, which allows access to 800-odd venues not normally open to the public – private homes, government buildings, historic sites, educational establishments – but it's not just about being nosy, there are also loads of walks and tours to bring the buildings alive. See below for more details.
How much does Open House London cost?
Amazingly, it's all free. Some of the popular events need to be pre-booked, but otherwise you can just turn up on the day.
Check out our highlights from 2015 below. We'll be updating this page with events as and when they are announced for 2016.
Open House highlights
Saturday and Sunday 10.30am-1.30pm
The doors of the Millennium Mills open for the first time in 2015 following a £3.5 billion redevelopment of the Silvertown area they are located in. The building was designed by millers William Vernon & Sons in 1905 and became famous for its rapid flour production and the girls that worked there. Expect to see the original art deco frontage and high ceilings still in place.
River Sculpture/Studio (Slice of Reality)
Admire the habitable sections of a sea-going sand dredger which has been sliced vertically, leaving only 15% of the original ship and a great view of its interior. Accessible parts include the bridge, poop and engine room.
The St Mary Magdalen Roman Catholic Church was opened in 1852, and its churchyard is home to the Grade II* listed mausoleum of Sir Richard Burton. The tomb is in the shape of an Arab tent, its interior embellished with oriental lamps, devotional paintings and camel bells. It holds the coffins of both Burton and his wife, Isabel Arundell Burton, who had the mausoleum built when he died in 1890.
This sewage treatment works processes 209,000 tonnes of flow every day. It is currently undergoing an upgrade, due for completion in 2018. It will be open for 30-minute tours that must be pre-booked by emailing email@example.com.
Open House highlights
The Darke House
Celebrated architect Geoffrey Darke designed this home, and its Grade II listing describes it as 'the country's finest example of a modernist house in a Georgian setting'. Almost all the original features and fittings remain.
25 Montpellier Row, TW1 2NQ
Friern Road, East Dulwich (Pear Tree House)
This self-build architect's house was built around a 100-year-old pear tree. The contemporary design uses concrete and timber cladding, and the joinery and light fittings were made on site.
190a Friern Road, SE22 0BA
This home and artist's studio in a land-locked site in Hackney features a cantilevered steel stair and bespoke terraced garden on the roof.
27 Buckingham Road, N1 4DG
This award-winning and utterly modern house neighbours a Grade II* listed pagoda in the Blackheath Conservation Area. It's fully automated and features open plan living with plenty of natural light plus verdant gardens.
The Pavillion, Pagoda Gardens, Blackheath, SE3 0UZ
Just one wall forms this single storey house – it wraps the boundary and then spirals into the site's centre to create a habitable space.
19b Culverden Road, Balham, SW12 9LT
Interconnecting top-lit pavilions make up this house and its calm private courtyard. The design maximises the irregular urban site.
2 Smugglers Yard, Devonport Road, W12 8PB
This Victorian terraced house has been remodelled to include a rear extension and new garden design. Among the materials used are concrete, steel and Iroko timber, all of which are used both internally and externally to link the spaces.
40 Roman Road, E3 5QJ
This 1930s semi-detached house has been renovated and extended to open up the ground floor. A timber extension was added to connect living spaces with the garden.
86 Doyle Gardens, Kensal Rise, NW10 3SR
Open House highlights
Saturday and Sunday 9.30am-7.30pm
One of London's tallest buildings (though its height depends on whether you include the mast that takes it from 175 metres to 188 metres) and certainly one of its most popular, the BT Tower (previously known as the Post Office Tower) was designed to provide support for radio, TV and telephone aerials by means of microwave signals. It was opened in 1964 and its crowning glory was the revolving restaurant, the 'Top of the Tower', which now only opens for special events. Tours include a rare chance to visit the revolving floor. Places will be allocated by a ballot; enter on the Open House website.
During the Olympics London went cycle-crazy, probably because we were winning quite a bit. Now the famous Pringle-shaped venue is open to the public, and there’s plenty to encourage them to get back on their bikes. The velodrome will open for guided tours.
Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm
Gain insight into the workings of the Temple over the last 800 years with the help of interactive tours, family events and activities. Drop in for performances of Shakespeare Untold and the street food market, or watch a mock trial at the Royal Courts of Justice.
The neo-Georgian Inner Temple was built after the bombings of 1941 and will offer tours and access for those who'd just like to explore.
The stunning Elizabethan Middle Temple was built in 1562 and features notable paintings, a library, Bench Apartments and gardens. Try on traditional wigs and gowns or join a tour of the garden.
Temple Church was built by the Knights Templar as their English headquarters and was refurbished by Sir Christopher Wren in the seventeenth century. A Magna Carta exhibition and family activities (Sunday only) mark the anniversary of the sealing of the historic document.
Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm
The V&A is one of the world’s – let alone London's – most magnificent museums, its foundation stone laid on this site by Queen Victoria in her last official public engagement in 1899. They're now undertaking their most significant building project in a century, creating a new courtyard, grand entrance and subterranean gallery. These tours will see visitors join the project team on the museum's roof to view the building site. The one-hour tours include steep steps and are not suitable for children, people with mobility issues or sufferers of vertigo.
This former greyhound racing track, first opened in 1933, closed for good in 2008 and is now being turned into a development of 294 homes and community facilities. The Grade II listed building will be sensitively restored, meaning future generations will still be able to visit the venue that appeared in such popular culture gems as Blur's 'Parklife' cover, Carey Mulligan's 'An Education' and Blazin' Squad's video for 'Love on the Line'. The stadium will be open for guided tours which take place every 20 minutes, with places offered on a first come first served basis.
Open House highlights
Hackney's Timber Buildings
Three of the world's most significant timber buildings are situated in Hackney. Architect Andrew Waugh will lead this guided walk to view all of them, including Stadthaus, which is the world's tallest timber apartment block.
Murray Grove, N1 7FB
ICE Engineering Highlights Cycle Tour of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
This two-hour cycle tour of the Olympic Park is organised by the Institution of Civil Engineers. Engineer Andrew Weir and architect Kay Hughes will explain the construction of the venues, the park's utilities and their supporting infrastructure. Bring your own bike.
Timber Lodge Café, Honour Lea Avenue, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 3BB
Wembley Park Masterplan
Saturday 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm
Find out what Wembley Park's 85-acre mixed-use district has in its future on these walking tours led by the creative team from property investors Quintain, architect Flanagan Lawrence and enironmental design business LDA Design.
The Yellow Pavilion, off Olympic Way, HA9 0FA
City Alleyways South West
Saturday and Sunday 10.15am-2pm
Discover the City's old alleyways on this two-hour tour led by a qualified City of London guide. You'll pass Wren churches, Livery halls and the historic area of Carter Lane.
Outside Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AE
Modernism in Metroland
Saturday 10am and 2pm
Take a trip to Stanmore in idyllic 'Metroland' – the suburbs served by the Metropolitan Line – for a walking tour of the art deco and modernist homes.
Stanmore tube station
World's End Estate Walk
Sunday 2.30pm and 4.30pm
Designer and architect Eric Lyons designed the World's End Estate as an attempt to overcome issues encountered with previous high-rise developments. It was constructed in the mid-70s uses alternative designs and materials to break up monotonous and bland facades.
16 Blantyre Street, SW10 0DS
Open House highlights
Take a look around the Royal College of Physicians before creating adventurous Lego structures with the whole family. The session runs alongside a number of other drop-in activities including the chance to dress up as a physician and drawing and photography competitions for all ages.Read more
Little art enthusiasts can take inspiration from the famous sculptures that sit on Leadenhall Markets' doorstep, capture what they see, then add their creations to a growing sculptural art work that wil be built across the day. Families can drop by and make any time between 11am-3pm meaning they can also visit other activities happening across the Open House Junior programme.Read more
An opportunity for budding architects to contribute to a giant model of an eco-friendly London of the future. Kids can plan, design and construct stadiums, cycle routes, green-zones, schools and anything else their minds can dream up before adding it to the structure.Read more
Help to create a giant map of London during this free family-friendly event which is part of the Open House Junior events programme. The session is geared towards kids between two and nine years old and aims to let their imaginations run wild as they create marshmallow buildings in geodesic shapes.Read more
Budding architects can create replicas of buildings from the London skyline and learn about scale at this drop-in workshop taking place at RIBA as part of the Open House Junior programme. Professionals in the field will be on hand to help kids make large scale drawings of buildings such as the 'Gherkin' and BT Tower which will then be transformed into a 3D skyline.Read more
Head to the 5th floor cafe of the Wellcome Trust with the little ones to check out great views across London before making drawings inspired by the skyline. Mini artists will be given all the materials they need to create their masterpieces, and will also be given the chance to take part in other drop-in activities. The event is part of the Open House Junior programme and last entry is at 4.45pm.Read more