Founded in 1992 the Open House concept offers individuals outside of the profession the chance to better understand architecture. The idea is based on allowing people to experience buildings and places for themselves, with free to access for all, presenting an opportunity to learn, discuss and debate at the same time.
Every year in September over a quarter of a million people take part in the Open House weekend in London, making it the biggest architectural festival in the UK. Whether it is somebody opening the doors to their own home, a church, residential development or 10 Downing Street, Open House gives free access to London’s best buildings, places and neighbourhoods. Also on offer are guided walking and cycling tours of the city with talks and debates along the way.
Open House London will take place this year on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September 2019, giving free public access to over 800 buildings, walks, talks and tours over one weekend.
“Well-designed buildings and public spaces are vital in creating and sustaining a vibrant and equitable city and Open House enables the wider community to become more knowledgeable, engage in dialogue and make informed judgements about their future city’s environment” says Victoria Thornton OBE, HonFRIBA (Open House Founder).
The core of the concept is simple, but powerful, and can be best understood through the EDEA acronym:
Experience: Facilitating opportunities for a city’s inhabitants to experience architecture to demonstrate that well-designed cities can improve people’s lives. Offering the opportunity to experience high quality design across ages, styles, and typology, enables understanding of the value good design in its broadest sense. Initiating direct experience of the city, rather than mediated experience, is critical. Offering free entry to all events enables as wide an audience as possible to participate regardless of age, gender, socio-economic level, level of education, or architectural expertise.
Dialogue: These direct experiences generate potential for people to engage in dialogue about the value of architecture and share their knowledge. Creating an accessible and independent platform bridges the gap between experts and users. It gives permission for everyone (including government, private organisations, professional institutions, and the public) to exchange views, comment and engage in the discussion, a true dialogue.
Empowerment: Offering experiences and encouraging dialogue about architecture and urban design creates awareness that the public has a stake in the design, development and care of its city. The city is a ‘shared’ space that is co-created and the city’s inhabitants have the power to change the city development.
Advocacy: Fostering understanding about the value of a well-designed city and the role of its inhabitants in its creation encourages them to advocate for a well-designed built environment. This includes how architecture addresses environmental, social and economic sustainability, and how ‘people-centred’ design can optimise the health and wellbeing of building occupants.
Here are some of the highlights open for visits at this year’s event:
- Lancaster House
- Senate House
- St Pauls Cathedral
- BT Tower
- United States Embassy
- London Coliseum
- St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Great Hall and Maggie’s Centre
- Vex House
- Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate
- Abbey Mills Pumping Station
- The Round House
- Buddhapadipa Temple
- City Hall
- Coal Drops Yard
More information on how you can get involved is available at https://openhouselondon.org.uk/