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Open House London: our highlights

Peek behind the doors of some of London’s most famous buildings at Open House weekend this September

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

15 and a Half Consort Road

Saturday 10am-5pm

This innovative little house was featured on 'Grand Designs' and used sutainable features and clever design to solve the issue of how to build on an 'unusable' brownfield site on a limited budget.

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Peckham

BedZED

Saturday 10am-1pm

Completed in 2002, BedZED is the UK's first large-scale mixed use eco-village and sustainable community. It promotes One Planet Living across the world. It will be running guided tours.

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Beddington Corner

Millennium Mills

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.

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Silvertown

Grow Elephant

Saturday and Sunday noon-9pm

London's only mobile community garden is currently in its third year and on its third site. It's run by local residents and will offer coffee, cake and drinks in its on-site café, with disco and soul DJs to round out the Open House party.

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Elephant and Castle

McCann London Offices

Saturday 10am-5pm

Global ad agency McCann's London team work from this 1930s art deco building, which was once a garage. They'll run regular guided tours during Open House.

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Bloomsbury

River Sculpture/Studio (Slice of Reality)

Saturday 10am-5pm

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.

Sir Richard Burton's Mausoleum

Sunday 1pm-5pm

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.

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Mortlake

Deephams Sewage Treatment Works

Saturday 10am-5pm

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 rachelgroves@murphygroup.co.uk.

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Upper Edmonton

Open House highlights

The Darke House

Sunday 10am-5pm

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)

Saturday 10am-5pm

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

Garden House

Sunday 10am-1pm

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

The Pavilion

Saturday 10am-5pm

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

Spiral House

Sunday 10am-1pm

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

Tin House

Saturday 10am-1pm

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

Concrete House

Saturday 10am-5pm

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

Doyle Gardens

Sunday 1pm-5pm

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

6 Bevis Marks

Sunday 10am-5pm

This 16-storey building is a truly striking office block in the heart of the City, offering spectacular views from its covered rooftop garden. It will be open for hourly tours on a first come first served basis.

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Aldgate

BT Tower

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.

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Fitzrovia

Lee Valley Velopark

Saturday 10am-5pm

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.

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Stratford

Temple Inns of Court and Temple Church

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.

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Temple

V&A FuturePlan: Exhibition Road Building Project Roof Tour

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.

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Brompton

Walthamstow Stadium

Saturday 10am-5pm

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.

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South Chingford

Open House highlights

Hackney's Timber Buildings

Saturday 10.30am

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

Sunday 2pm

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

Arts and Crafts! at The Lookout

Little ones can use the sprawling gardens and living roof at the Isis Education Centre to inspire arts and crafts projects across the weekend. The drop-in sessions run on both Saturday and Sunday.

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Build a Lego Masterpiece

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.

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20 Sep 2015

Build a View Shaper

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.

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Until Sun Sep 20

City of a Thousand Architects

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. 

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20 Sep 2015

Crafternoon at JW3

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.

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20 Sep 2015

Scale-up the City!

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.

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20 Sep 2015

Skyline Sketching at The Wellcome Trust

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.

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19 Sep 2015

Looking for more September events?

London events in September

Say goodbye to summer in style – get out and get stuck into the last of the capital's festivals, pop-ups and outdoor shindigs this month.

Read more
By: Phoebe Trimingham

Comments

7 comments
Hitesh J
Hitesh J

BAPS Neasden, London Mandir - A truly inspiring and beautiful Mandir. Mandir is the name of a Hindu place of worship and prayer. It is composed of two words ‘Man’ (meaning Mind) and ‘Dir’( meaning Still) and thus it is a place where one experiences peace from worldly problems and the Soul becomes one with God.

It is a place of great calm and serenity where people of all ages and walks of life came together to pray and volunteer their services. The Sadhus (Monks) are very knowledgeable and helpful and the volunteers are ever smiling and attentive.

A wonderful place to visit and reflect.

Kaloyan
Kaloyan

Go only if you're ready to wait 2-3 hours in a queue. I won't even bother to check next time.

Didier
Didier

went to battersea today, they closed 1 hour before...so I went to the shard afterwards, they're not part of the Open House since you pay to get in. Nice

Phil
Phil

You forgot the Bank of England is also having an open day this weekend. Saturday and Sunday, from 9.30am to 4pm.

Chirag L
Chirag L

@AME its swaminarayan hindu temple ,really good place to visit and where you can get peace of mind

sandra
sandra

Also, looking forward to seeing the Stairway to Heaven Memorial and hearing about the Bethnal Green tube shelter disaster - the worst civilian disaster of the 2nd World War which has largely been kept secret ever since. It's next door to Bethnal Green underground station and part of the Open House weekend.