07 September 2016
If you’ve not heard of Open House London, you need to get to know. We touched on it briefly in a post from last month, but since then the full listings have been released. We felt it was worthy of its own post.
Open the doors of London
As a visitor to or local of the Capital it can be easy to spend your time wandering the street with your hands in your pocket and your head down, it can be that kind of a place. But over the weekend of 17-18 September 2016, normally closed buildings will be opening their doors to the public as part of a city-wide celebration of the architecture that makes the city tick.
Travel underground to see the inner workings of how the city runs, from how it pumps commuters round the tube to how it pumps water into the city. From there scale to the heights of the city and get a view unlike any other; then descend to the secretive hallways of shadowy organisations.
As there is literally so much to see and so little time in which to do so, we have picked out our best options from around the capital. They are:
Starting off at the pinnacle of London, from where all else is a downward glance. The View from the Shard is the highest accessible point of the tallest tower in the UK. It runs on both Saturday and Sunday.
Whilst there, trace a line from Blackfriars Bridge to Farringdon Station, using the railway as a guide. This will take you to the next stop in our open tour; Farringdon Station’s Crossrail worksite. The Elizabeth Line, as it will be known, will open in December 2018 and is expected to carry half a million passengers daily. This vast project is rolling along full steam ahead but to catch a glimpse head down both days between 10am and 4pm.
You’ve seen the highs and you’ve seen the lows, now head for the hidden and the secretive. Freemasons’ Hall is a monumental building, whose shadowy rooms and long corridors have heard their fair share of whispers. It is a physically imposing building that practically hides in plain site. It’s open on Sunday from 10am-5pm. And now to a better known location, 10 Downing Street. It is one of the world’s most recognisable front doors, but what happens behind the door? Very few have seen behind, Sunday is your opportunity.
The east of London is closely linked to the water. The docklands played a big part in trade in years gone by. Fittingly our next entry deals with the city’s treatment of water. More specifically how to keep it out in case of flooding. The Thames Barrier sits quietly protecting the city centre from flooding. Dip your toes into the inner workings and see how the barrier works.
The south brings with it many joys. For those interested in the area consider a stay at easyHotel London Croydon. The biggest highlight of the area is undoubtedly Airport House. This 1928 building used to serve as London’s main terminal. With the growth in the size of planes over the years it has become disused and now serves as a hotel. It is famed as a location where Winston Churchill once crash-landed his plane during flying lessons.
The best that west has to offer goes architecturally big. Senate House, the administrative HQ of the University of London, is an imposing building. So imposing is it that it featured in 1984 the film as the exterior for the main character’s apartment building. It is also said to have been the preferred choice of head quarters for the UK Nazi party had Hitler led a successful invasion of the UK. The building is open on Saturday from 10am-5pm.
ROOM by Antony Gormley is a hotel suite that is fashioned after the artist’s own body in large cubical structures. If looked at from a distance it appears to be a male figure crouching, hugging its knees. It is open on Sunday for three hours from 2pm.
Alexandra Palace tops the list of the best things to be seeing in Norf. Opening in 1873 its main purpose was as an entertainment centre. This year Ally Pally will be opening up its basements where bread ovens, a bunk bed and cell remain from its days as an internment camp during WWI.