Open House London 2018: 10 Places to Visit this Weekend

This weekend, London’s buildings throw open their doors and invite you in to uncover the city’s best architecture and urban design (for free) for Open House London 

10 places to visit this weekend for Open House London

Snoop and explore to your heart’s content over the course of two days at Open House London. For the second year running (and only the second time ever) all 33 boroughs have thrown their hats into the ring and there’s more to see than ever. Here’s our pick:

1. City Hall, SE1

As it’s the weekend, you may not find Sadiq Khan at his desk in City Hall, nor the rest of the London Assembly. What you will find is an environmentally-conscious building, masterminded by Foster + Partners back in 2002, with a distinctive spiral ramp and awesome views of our fine city. Its shape has been the subject of a lot of discussion, compared to a helmet (either Darth Vader's or a motorcyclist's), a misshapen egg, and a woodlouse. Former mayor Ken Livingstone called it a "glass testicle" while Boris Johnson dubbed it the “Glass Gonad” and, more politely, "the Onion". Cast your own opinion this weekend as it welcomes the public for Open House London.

Location: The Queen’s Walk, SE1 Closest Station: London Bridge Day/time: Saturday 10am – 4pm

2. Quaker Meeting House, Redbridge

High praise from Rory Olcayto himself suggests to us this 1968 building is worth a trip to Zone 4. “Defined by four hexagonal pavilions nesting together on the edge of Epping Forest, Norman Frith’s design will delight Modernist trainspotters”. Positioned between Wanstead and Laytonstone, this is unique highlight of Open House weekend.

Location: Bush Road, Wanstead, Redbridge, E11 Closest Station: Wanstead / Laytonstone Day/time: Sunday 1-5pm, hourly tours from 1.30pm

3. Walmer's Yard, W11

Up to speed with London Gesamtkunstwerks? No, us neither, but according to chief Rory, “Walmer’s Yard is a special one”. That G-word indicates a total work of art – where the architect has designed everything. Walmer’s Yard is 9,000 square feet showcasing the skill of revered architect Peter Salter: “From the play of light, shadow and colour, to the intense celebration of materials… these houses celebrate the full extent of what architecture can deliver at the domestic scale.” Visit this weekend as part of Open House London.

Location: 235-239 Walmer Road, W11 Closest Station: Latimer Road Day/time: Saturday/Sunday 10am – 4pm, tours every 2 hours

4. Leighton House Museum, W11

This “magical, atmospheric oasis” is a top pick of Sian Milliner on the Open House team – she particularly rates “the stunning Arab Hall with its beautiful tile work and rich colours”. It was originally the home of Lord Leighton, President of the Royal Academy, and houses a stand-out collection of high Victorian art.

Location: 2 Holland Park Road, W14 Closest Station: Kensington Olympia Day/time: Saturday/Sunday 10am – 5.30pm

5. Aga Khan Centre, N1C

New to Open House, this building was opened only in June and on that occasion His Highness the Aga Khan highlighted one of the biggest challenges society currently faces: “Harmonising many highly diversified voices within an increasingly global world”. His collective mission is to increase knowledge and understanding of Muslim civilisations and to help improve quality of life for people of all faiths and backgrounds – this remarkable building on the Open House London schedule reflects his mission with subtlety and grace.

Location: 10 Handyside Street, N1C Closest Station: King's Cross Day/time: Saturday 12-5pm, Sunday 12-4pm

6. Here East, E15

1.2 million, and 8 million. That’s the square footage and dots on the façade, respectively. It’s massive. This tech and creativity campus, refashioned from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games media centre, is not only invigorating the local area but it’s also getting the industry thumbs up. Architects’ Journal named it building of the year and for good reason.

Location: Press Centre off Waterden Road, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E15 Closest Station: Hackney Wick Day/time: Saturday 10am – 5pm and hourly tours

7. Victoria Line Tour, E4

How often do you think about the tube as a miracle of engineering, rather than a heavily-populated underground furnace or the one thing separating you from a hot meal and bed? Not often, we’d bet. For Open House London, appreciate 50 years of the Victoria line - the first entirely new tube line built in more than 60 years, at the time - and get a behind-the-scenes tour of the first six stations, which opened on 1 September, 1968.

Location: meet outside Chingford Station, Station Road, E4 Day/time: Sunday 10-12pm. Pre-book only.

8. US Embassy, SW11

Brand new and designed by Philadelphia-based firm Kieran Timberlake, expect to see the latest in energy-efficient building techniques in the new pad for the US Embassy – decamping from Mayfair to Battersea. Marvel at the 65-metre-tall, 12-storey cube with a facade of laminated glazing on two sides with a transparent film of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) – in case you were wondering where you’d heard that before, it’s the same type of plastic use for the bio-domes in the UK's Eden Project.

Location: 33 Nine Elms, SW11 Closest Station: Vauxhall Day/time: Saturday 9.45am – 12pm (photo ID essential, airport style security)

9. St. Augustine’s Church, W6

“Beauty ever ancient, ever new”. This is how St Augustine often describes God but the poetic lovers of religious spaces among you may like to use this phrase to describe the RIBA award-winning church too. The brains behind it is Roz Barr Architects, with input from renowned ceramicist Julian Stair and typographer John Morgan.

Location: Fulham Palace Road, W6 Closest Station: South Kensington Day/time: Saturday 10.30am – 6.30pm, Sunday 9am – 7.30pm

10. Old Waiting Room, SE15

Open House team member Jeni Hoskin praises the refurbishment project of “this beautifully crumbling, huge and once grand waiting room”. Originally the lounge for passengers due to embark at Peckham Rye, it's designed in high Victorian style.

Location: Station Arcade, Rye Lane, SE15 Closest Station: Peckham Rye Day/time: Saturday/Sunday 10am - 5pm

Open House London Weekend, 22-23 September, openhouselondon.org.uk