London Open House Weekend has been opening doors of unique and interesting buildings to curious architecture enthusiasts for nearly 30 years. Luckily, despite everything, the festival is still going ahead this year, but in a slightly different format than usual. There are many Coronavirus precautions in place including capacity reduction, online only events and self-guided tours. So what can you still see in the flesh you ask?
If you are itching to get out of the house, here is a list of the most impressive buildings you will have the chance to see. Some places are accessible via pre-booking only and as we know those tickets fly off the shelves first thing. There are still some gems out there, but you might want to show up early as the numbers are very limited this year. And don’t forget your face-mask!
Think Eyes Wide Shut, mystery and secret societies. The Freemasons Hall is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved examples of art deco architecture. At the centre of the building you will find the Grand Temple used for meetings and ceremonies by the United Grand Lodge of England. This room is filled with symbolism and a stunning celestial sky ceiling.
Rudolf Steiner House
The Rudolf Steiner House by architect Montague Wheeler takes inspiration from the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner – founder of the anthroposophic movement. The most interesting feature of this building is the pastel-washed staircase. Its organic movement and flow plays into the principles of art nouveau and the expressionist style. If you like the work of Alphonse Mucha and Gaudi do not miss this gem.
Royal Opera House
With the site being plagued by fires in 1808 and 1856, the Royal Opera House has an unfortunate past, yet the newest building emerges from the ashes with all its glory and splendour. This year you will have a chance to step into the shoes of world-famous ballet dancers and opera singers and set foot on two of the most premier stages in Europe.
Despite being one of London’s top brutalist icons today, the Brunswick remained rather unpopular and left empty for a long time after completion in the 70s. The uniform glazed terraces of the complex were all created equal to echo the idea of a utopian community with no social segregation. Today brutalism has regained much of public’s favour and if you want to see what it’s like to live in a concrete palace this is the place to go.
The Supreme Court
This ornate, neo-gothic marvel previously knowns as Middlesex Guildhall houses the UK Supreme Court. The creation by Scottish architect James Gibson is somewhat unusual for the early 20th century in terms of style. It features intricate plasterwork, stained glass windows and a grand staircase. Take a peek into the 3 court rooms ranging from historic to contemporary state-of-the-art.
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel
Ever wanted to have that penthouse suite experience without having to pay the buck? Here is your chance to get a glimpse of how the other half lives. St Pancras Renaissance Hotel is one of those grand railway hotels from the days of yore. After falling into disuse for the most part of the past century its Gothic Victorian spirit can be admired again following an extensive redevelopment. Join a tour to see the interior of the chambers and the Clock Tower which now houses an apartment.
Open House Weekend Festival will be on during the weekend of 19 & 20 September, with additional events taking place until the 27 September. Entrance to the buildings is free. To check out access to more great buildings visit their website here.
If you are looking for more architectural gems to see in London check out this article on London’s Top Brutalist Buildings.