Open House London – a peek inside some of London’s most inspiring buildings

Ah London! Many architecture lovers have been acquainted with your Victorian façades, your glass towers, your domes and your arches, your green parks and your bridges. Many curious souls have gazed upon your eclectic beauty but only a few have seen what you’ve got to offer from within. 

This weekend was Open House London – a fantastic event giving you the chance to explore hundreds of buildings for free. The so called “capital’s largest annual architecture and design festival” is more than an urban exhibition, it is an opportunity to see into some of London’s most secretive buildings, usually closed to the public.

Okay, secretive might be a bit of a dramatisation but if you think about it, isn’t building a fancy tower then denying public access to it a little cruel? Doesn’t the unknown pique your curiosity? Have you ever wondered what it must be like inside the Gherkin?

For those of you who don’t live in London, those who missed the event or those who decided against the 4 hour-long queue to visit the Gherkin (I know, a screw might be lose somewhere in my head), here are some photos of the buildings we managed to get into. This includes 30 St Mary Axe (or The Gherkin), the Broadgate Tower, City Hall and the National Theatre.

Click on all to enlarge.

The Gherkin, Foster and Partners – from the ground and from the top…

Views of the Cheese Grater, the Shard, the Walkie Talkie & the structural dome.

The Broadgate Tower, SOM Architects – (notice the men abseiling down the glass façade…)

Broadgate Tower, inside – clockwise: green and blue elevators, the office of SOM on the 4th floor (I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t help but picture myself working there!), the A-frame supporting structure.

City Hall, Foster and Partners (and a glimpse of Tower Bridge) as seen from the public plaza.

City Hall, inside – it’s all about the gorgeous, sculptural spiral staircase!

The National Theatre, Denys Lasdun – clockwise: The Shed (temporary venue) by Hawthorn Hopkins Architects, view inside the theatre, the concrete balconies of the Brutalist building.

The National Theatre, wings and backstage – clockwise: workshop, permanent office for freelance set designers, Drum Road (circulation space between rehearsing rooms and stages), Rehearsing Room 1 (with a revolving platform as in the Olivier Theatre’s drum revolve)


Thanks for reading.
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13 responses to “Open House London – a peek inside some of London’s most inspiring buildings

  1. Nice post. This is what I do when I visit cities and towns – explore as much of the architecture I can. If I can get in great. If not, I look and document from the outside. This must have been a wonderful experience for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, a city holiday for me means A LOT of walking and no rest. But then again, as my mum says, “rest is just doing a different kind of activity”.
      This weekend was quite a privilege, I must say. I felt particularly lucky to live in London and be able to attend such events.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the way you address London in your opening paragraph. I also enjoy seeing buildings through an architect’s eye. There are some wonderful angles in your photos, and a great juxtaposition of London Bridge and City Hall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I considered the entire post to be a sort of ‘love letter’ to London but honesty, I don’t think my love for the city has reached this level yet…
      I could definitely write such letter to Paris and I wonder if I will ever fall in love with London in the same way…
      Do you have such a favourite place in Australia… or Poland?


      • I think my whole blog is a hymn of praise to where I live: Potato Point, on the south coast of NSW. In Warsaw, it would have to be Łazienki Park: I’ve experienced four seasons there – golden Polish autumn; winter snow (birds sitting on my camera, squirrels running up my leg); the luscious green of spring; and summer when the twins scoot around on their bikes and disappear in the flower meadows and lean over the fountains, and pretend-sleep on the free deck chairs while we picnic.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes you’re definitely right, your blog is a real treat. I can’t wait to visit Australia one day, though I wouldn’t know where to start. Maybe Potato Point! ;)
        I haven’t visited Warsaw either and I must admit you’re doing a good job painting an appealing picture. That park sounds so enchanting.


      • Oh that’s just the worst question… ;-) Um… here’s where I realize how much I need to work on my elevator pitch.

        My novel is about a young woman who decides to go to medical school in England, but first deals with the unfinished business of reconciliation with her movie-star mother. Almost as soon as she gets on the plane, things start to go wrong, and not much ever goes right for her.

        My poor MC… it’s a rough life being a fictional character, isn’t it? ;-)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ha ha I feel your pain – I feel exactly the same way when asked this question!
        You did a good job though, sounds intriguing! And it really is a rough life, so much conflict and turmoil… 😄

        Liked by 1 person

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