Open House London: 25 Cool Buildings to Explore in 2019
Open House London returns from 21-22 September 2019 with more than 800 buildings across the capital flinging open the doors to curious visitors, from homes to offices and breweries. The Resident picks out the most intriguing buildings to see in north, south, east and west London…
Lead image: Crystal Palace Subway (photo: James Balston)
1 264 Westbourne Park Road, Notting Hill
This new building, an urban accent on Westbourne Park Road by Studio Bednarski, is two independent houses on top of each other. Contemporary in design, the building draws from the tectonic composition of adjacent Victorian houses, and has sustainability features such as rain water harvesting, a roof garden and solar water heating. Open Saturday & Sunday 10am-12pm & 3pm-5pm.
264 Westbourne Park Road, Notting Hill W11 1EJ
2 Walmer Yard, Notting Hill
Forming a discreet and private set of four interlocking houses set around an open courtyard, Walmer Yard is architect Peter Salter’s only UK project. The houses now form the home of the Baylight Foundation, a charity that aims to increase the public understanding of what architecture can do. The four houses and courtyard engage our sense of touch, smell, sight and sound, as well as encouraging sharing. Open Saturday 21 with guided tours from 10am-4pm (booking required).
235-239 Walmer Road, Notting Hill W11 4EY
3 World’s End Estate Walk, Chelsea
Designed by Eric Lyons and built in the 1970s, the World’s End Estate is a deliberate attempt to overcome many of the issues of previous high-rise developments and eliminate monotonous bland facades through alternative designs and materials. Open on Saturday, meet at the Residents Association Clubroom for guided tours at 2.30pm and 4.30pm.
16 Blantyre Street, World’s End Estate, Chelsea SW10 0DS
4 Royal Hospital Chelsea
Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital Chelsea is one of England’s architectural glories, built in brick in the decades after the Great Fire of London and sitting in 66 acres of beautiful gardens. Other famous architects John Soane, Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, also had input into this iconic building. Open Saturday from 10am-12pm and 2pm-5pm, and Sunday 2pm-5pm. Access is restricted to the Great Hall, Chapel, State Apartments and Museum.
Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea SW3 4SR
5 Trellick Tower, Kensall Town
The Grade II* listed Brutalist Trellick Tower by Ernö Goldfinger has long been a source of fascination for west Londoners. Goldfinger’s 31-storey tower, originally built as social housing, is now one of London’s most desirable addresses with some fantastically done-up apartments inside. Monumental in style, with its free-standing service tower and surreal boiler house, it retains beautiful detailing and a rich use of materials. Open Saturday with regular tours from 10am-4.30pm (booking required).
5 Golborne Road, Kensall Town W10 5UT
SOUTH WEST LONDON
6 The Wheelhouse, Merton Abbey Mills
The Wheelhouse at Merton Abbey Mills is a listed building with unique seven-spoke Victorian waterwheel – the only daily working example in south London. Originally used by Liberty’s for rinsing printed silk, The Wheelhouse is now the home of Stephen Llewellyn Pottery and the waterwheel now turns five days a week from Wednesday to Sunday. Open Saturday & Sunday from 10am–5pm.
Merantun Way, Merton SW19 2RD
7 Fulham Palace, Fulham
Fulham palace reopened earlier this year following a restoration project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, that has doubled the size of the museum, opening historic rooms never before seen by the public. The residence of the Bishops of London from AD 704 to 1973, the palace also has a Tudor red-brick courtyard with Georgian additions, Butterfield Chapel and a walled garden. Open Sunday from 11am–4pm. History tours run every 90 mins from 11am-2pm.
Bishop’s Avenue, Fulham SW6 6EA
8 Wandsworth Prison Museum
The grand Victorian design of Wandsworth Prison features a radial pattern of wings and landings from a central point, as well as an impressive gatehouse where the Governor and Chaplain resided. The prison now has a new museum with more than 400 items. General access during Open House London is to the museum only, but you can take an architectural tour of the museum at 12.30pm on both Saturday and Sunday (general opening hours 10am-5pm).
North Gate Car Park, HMP Wandsworth, Heathfield Road SW18 3HR
9 Buddhapadipa Temple, Wimbledon
An eternal favourite, this Thai-style Buddhist temple is one of only two found outside Asia, so if you haven’t visited yet, make this the year you do. The striking exterior of Buddhapadipa Temple was designed in accordance with Thai architecture and is finished with an ornate gold and red roof, filled with remarkable painted murals and surrounding by tranquil gardens. You can even sign up to a Buddhism course for beginners too. Open Saturday & Sunday 10am–5pm.
14 Calonne Road, Wimbledon SW19 5HJ
10 Baitul Futuh Mosque, Morden
The Baitul Futuh Mosque by Sutton Griffin Architects is the largest purpose-built mosque in Western Europe accommodating 13,000 worshipers. The building is a blend of Islamic and modern British architecture and incorporates much of the structure of an old dairy site. Open Saturday 10am-5pm (talks: Construction of Baitul Futuh: Architectural Challenges and Solutions at 11.30am, & Objections and Resolutions at 3pm) and Sunday 10am–5pm (talks: Fire Loss and Plans to Rebuild at 11.30am; Use of Baitul Futuh at 3pm).
Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, 181 London Road, Morden SM4 5PT
SOUTH EAST LONDON
11 Dulwich College, Dulwich Village
Who can help but stare at Dulwich College when passing? Do more than stare and step inside Charles Barry Junior’s Harry Potter-esque school building. The Barry Buildings, built in 1869, are Grade II* listed, Palladian-style, and built in terracotta and stone. Extensively refurbished from 2017-2018, you can also explore the RIBA National Award-winning New Science Building. Open Sunday with archivist-led tours every 75 mins from 10am-12.30pm (tours must be pre-booked).
Dulwich Common, Dulwich Village SE21 7LD
12 Crystal Palace Subway, Crystal Palace Park
The Crystal Palace Subway one of London’s most beautiful hidden gems, with a stunning fan vaulted ceiling made of red and cream brick, was reopened in 2016 following a successful, locally championed crowdfunding project. The subway, which now supports the A212, and was built by Charles Barry Junior to connect Crystal Palace High Level Station with the celebrated Crystal Palace, neither of which survive today. Open Sunday 11am–5pm. The nearby Crystal Palace Bowl will also be opening up on Saturday.
West-side pavement of Crystal Palace Parade SE19
13 Greenwich Yacht Club, Greenwich Peninsula
Greenwich Yacht Club is a contemporary Frankl + Luty structure of timber and aluminium, built on an existing pier over the Thames and offering unique views of the river, the O2 and the Thames Barrier. As well as a working yacht club, it’s also a popular spot for weddings. While you’re there, check out The Tide, London’s first-ever riverside linear park with public art installations by the likes of Damien Hirst. GYC is open Saturday & Sunday with guided tour every mins from 2.30pm-4.15pm.
1 Peartree Way, Greenwich Peninsula SE10 0BW
14 The Old Waiting Room, Peckham
The Old Waiting Room is a popular one for Open House, and now that it’s fully reopened, you’ll be able to see it in all its glory. The Grade II listed room was designed by architect Charles Henry Driver and in its time was used by up to 100 people awaiting their trains. It was blocked up in 1961 but local firm Benedict O’Looney Architects worked on the project for about 10 years to restore the building. Open Saturday 10am–5pm with an architect-led tour of the restoration work at 1pm and a photography exhibition.
Station Arcade, Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 5DQ
15 Blackheath Quaker Meeting House
Blackheath Quaker Meeting House is a calm space for Quakers and others in octagonal meeting room lit naturally from high central roof lantern and side ‘turrets’. The unusual building won a Civic Trust Award in 1973 and Concrete Society Commendation in 1974. The Meeting Room is kept simple, as Quakers have no cross, altar or pulpit. The stairs to the lower floor are built at a rather unnerving angle, parallel to the end wall, instead of at right angles to the side wall. Open Saturday 10am–4pm with regular tours every 10 mins between 10am-3.45pm.
Lawn Terrace, Blackheath SE3 9LL
16 Millennium Mills, Royal Docks
Built in the early 20th Century by flour company Spillers, Millennium Mills is an Art Deco landmark that has stood vacant since the decline of the docks as a working port in the 1980s. Nowadays, you’re likely to spot it on TV as a remote place used by baddies to rough up their enemies (it’s been used in the likes of Luther and Eastenders). Open Saturday & Sunday. Regular tours every 60 mins (10am-3pm). Must be pre-booked. The meet point is the Rayleigh Road Entrance E16 1UR (ages 16+ due to health and safety reasons).
Rayleigh Road, Royal Docks E16 1UR
17 White Collar Factory, Shoreditch
The White Collar Factory by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris is a new office space that combines the wisdom of well-built industrial spaces with innovative design, sustainable principles, future-proof flexibility and panoramic views. It’s so good that it was classified Outstanding by BREEAM – the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for masterplanning projects, infrastructure and buildings. Open Saturday 10am–5pm & Sunday 1pm–5pm. Tour at 11am, otherwise access to ground floor lobby and roof terrace only.
1 Old StreetYard, Shoreditch EC1Y 8AF
18 Geffrye Museum, Hoxton
The Geffrye Museum, a Grade I listed 18th Century almshouse that was converted into a museum in 1914, is currently undergoing a major transformation courtesy of Wright & Wright Architects. Due to reopen in 2020 with a Café, Studio, Learning Pavilion, and galleries exploring the multiple meanings of home, you can take a preview tour this weekend. Open Saturday 11am–5pm. Architect tours every 60 mins (12pm-4pm).
136 Kingsland Road, Hoxton E2 8EA
19 A House with a Slide, Hackney
The House with a Slide in Hackney has a fun, puzzle-like layout, complete with a slide running from the kitchen to the basement (because stairs are so 2018). The five-storey property was originally a three-storey property, until architects Sean and Stephen got their hands on it, and it now has a lovely double-height atrium with large internal window. Open on Saturday with an architect-led tour every 60 mins (from 2pm-4pm). Booking through Eventbrite only.
41 Groombridge Road, Hackney E9 7DP
20 Round Chapel, Clapton
The Round Chapel is Grade II* listed nonconformist chapel, created by Henry Fuller & James Cubitt and built in 1875. It was described by Pevsner as ‘one of the finest nonconfirmist buildings in London’. The horseshoe plan building has innovative cast-iron columns and has been restored as a centre for the performing arts. Open Sunday from 11am–5pm.
Lower Clapton Road/Glenarm Road, Clapton E5 0NP
21 Kingsland Basin Moorings, Haggerston
Six foot narrowboats provide individual design solutions for living and working in confined conditions at Kingsland Basin Moorings – governed by Canals in Hackney Users Group. The self-managed moorings are a unique community with shared open spaces, offering a glimpse of alternative urban living. Open Sunday 1pm–5pm. Participating boats are marked with a green flag.
KingslandBasinMoorings, Haggerston N1 5BB
22 Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley
One of the oldest continuously-running cinemas in the country, the Grade II listed Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley is an independent single-screen community cinema showing mainly art-house films. It was built in 1910 and opened in 1912 as the East Finchley Picturedrome and retains its barrel-vaulted ceiling and Art Deco wall reliefs by Mollo and Egan. Open Sunday 10am–12pm with access to the projection rooms only with pre-booked tours (running every 30 mins from 10am-11.30am).
52 High Road, East Finchley N2 9PJ
23 The Bower, Old Street
Extending Allford Hall Monaghan Morris’ involvement in the regeneration of the Old Street area, The Bower, a new 320,000 sq ft landmark quarter, reinvents a collection of underperforming buildings into a coherent mix of workspaces, retail, restaurants and a new public realm. Open Saturday 10am–4pm with architect-led tours every 30 mins (10am-3.30pm).
207-211 Old Street EC1V 9NR
24 Bunhill Heat and Power Energy Centre
Bunhill Heat and Power Energy Centre by Tim Ronalds Architects is a ground-breaking district heating scheme located in south Islington. The energy centre is part of Islington Council’s wider strategy to reduce fuel poverty and produce financial and environmental benefits for the community. Open Saturday with regular tours every 20 mins between 10am and 4.45pm.
Central Street, nr Barbican EC1V 8AB
25 Periscope House, Queens Park
Periscope House, designed by Groves Natcheva Architects, converted a disused infill garage site in Queens Park into a joyful home within the high-density urban fabric of London. Open Saturday with architect-led tours every 45 mins between 10.15am and 5.30pm. Put your good socks on – shoes will need to be removed when in the house!
1 Woodville Road, Queens Park NW6 6HQ