Open House London 2018 has officially released the list of over 800 buildings open to the public this September. Now in its 27th edition, the weekend-long festival offers free guided tours and open doors to buildings and architecture across the city. This year, a range of exciting architecture will be featured, including the new US Embassy by KieranTimberlake, Maggie's Barts by Steven Holl Architects, and Bloomberg European Headquarters by Foster + Partners, the world's most sustainable office building. Find out our list of the top 10 must-see buildings to discover at this year's Open House.
Maggie's Barts opened in December 2017 . Maggie's Centres are unique, welcoming and uplifting places with qualified staff on hand to provide free practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer, their families and friends. Maggie’s Centers are designed to feel more like a home than a hospital, with no reception desk, no signs on the wall, no name badges and a big kitchen table at their heart. This approach supports the informal relationships between staff and visitors, and is an important part of the unique support they offer.
Architect Frida Escobedo, celebrated for dynamic projects that reactivate urban space, has been commissioned to design the Serpentine Pavilion 2018. Escobedo’s Pavilion takes the form of an enclosed courtyard, comprised of two rectangular volumes positioned at an angle. While the outer walls align with the Serpentine Gallery’s eastern façade, the axis of the internal courtyard align directly to the north. Internal courtyards are a common feature of Mexican domestic architecture, while the Pavilion’s pivoted axis refers to the Prime Meridian, which was established in 1851 at Greenwich and became the global standard marker of time and geographical distance.
City Hall has been designed as a model of democracy, accessibility and sustainability. It houses the assembly chamber for the 25 elected members of the London Assembly and the offices of the Mayor and 500 staff of the Greater London Authority. It is a highly public building, bringing visitors into close proximity with the workings of the democratic process. The building is set within the Foster-designed More London master plan on the south bank of the Thames, bringing a rich mix of office buildings, shops, cafés and landscaped public spaces to a section of the riverside that had remained undeveloped for decades.
A civic centerpiece for the regeneration of the area, the Canada Water Library is inverted pyramid form is an innovative response to providing an efficient single large library floor on a smaller footprint site. The pyramid form contains a readily accessible café, performance space, internet points and popular books within a small footprint at ground level, whilst the expanding shape above enables the containment of the main library within a single, galleried, skylit double volume. The whole is clad in aluminium sheets, anodized a light bronze with sequinned perforations.
The new U.S. Embassy in Nine Elms reflects the best of modern design, incorporates the latest in energy-efficient building techniques, and celebrates the values of freedom and democracy. The Nine Elms district, a South Bank industrial zone under intense redevelopment, is a unique setting for the new Embassy. With an estimated 1,000 daily visitors and 800 staff, the Embassy is poised to establish a strong framework for the urbanization of Nine Elms. The Embassy stands at the center of this burgeoning area of London, with a public park containing a pond, walkways, seating, and landscape along its edges. Curving walkways continue into the interior of the building with gardens on each floor that extend the spiraling movement upward.
London's first new commercial theatre of scale to be built for 80 years, the Bridge Theatre occupies an extraordinary site between City Hall and Tower Bridge, its lobby looking out over the river to the Tower of London. Completed in just over 2 years from inception using leading edge prefabrication techniques, the 935-seat flexible auditorium is a collaboration between Haworth Tompkins, specialist engineering manufacturer Tait Technologies and the London Theatre Company. The design aims to provide maximum adaptability of format without losing the intimacy and density associated with the best historic theatre spaces. The bright, generous, transparent new lobby with super graphic external signage faces directly out to the Tower of London over the Thames.
The Royal Academy of Music’s Theatre and new Recital Hall project has created two distinct, outstanding performance spaces for Britain’s oldest conservatoire. Designed for both opera and musical theatre productions, The Susie Sainsbury Theatre sits at the heart of the Academy. Inspired by the curved shapes of string instruments, the 309-seat cherry-lined Theatre has been acoustically refined to deliver excellent sound qualities. Within the old concrete walls, the Theatre incorporates 40% more seating than previously through the addition of a balcony, as well as a larger orchestra pit, a stage wing and a fly tower. All seats have unimpeded views of the stage, while the larger orchestra pit allows for an expanded repertoire choice, from early to modern opera and musical theatre.
Bloomberg's European Headquarters is the world's most sustainable office building. Home to the financial technology and information company's 4,000 London-based employees, its unique design promotes collaboration and innovation. In its form, massing and materials, the building's exterior is respectful of its historic setting - a natural extension of the City that will endure and improve the surrounding public realm. Inside, its dynamic, contemporary interior is a highly specific response to the global financial information and technology company's needs and embodies the organisations core values of transparency, openness and collaboration. Above all, the building sets a new standard in sustainable office design, with a BREEAM Outstanding rating of 98.5% – the highest design-stage score ever achieved by any major office development. The development uses 70% less water and 35% less energy than a typical office building.
Home to the LSE Students' Union, the Saw Swee Hock Student Center has been shortlisted for the Stirling Prize. The building has a dramatic sculptural form and unusual perforated brick façade achieving BREEAM Outstanding status. Designed to embody the dynamic character of a contemporary Student Centre, the complex geometries of the site provided a starting point for a lively arrangement of irregular floor plates, each particular to its function. Space flows freely in plan and section, with stairs turning to create meeting places at every level.
For Open House London, Renzo Piano's The Shard will be open at Level 72, the highest accessible point of the building. There, an open-air viewing gallery rests 800ft above ground, exposed to the elements, where guests are surrounded by the shards of glass forming the pinnacle of the building. Designed by Master Architect Renzo Piano, The Shard has redefined London’s skyline and quickly established its place as a dynamic symbol of London. At a height of up to 800ft or 244m, and at almost twice the height of any other vantage point in London, visitors will experience unrivalled 360 degree views over the city for up to 40 miles on a clear day. Begin your journey in our extraordinary high-speed lifts that carry you from Level 1 to Level 68 in sixty seconds. Once there, enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the capital from our Level 69 observation deck whilst unwinding with a glass of bubbles at London's highest Champagne bar, or share a moment with a loved one spotting London’s famous landmarks from our open-air skydeck on Level 72, where exposed to the elements you can take in the atmosphere and sounds of the city below.
Open House London 2018 takes place from September 22-23. The full program is available to view on the Open House London website.