London is blessed with incredible and iconic buildings. Unfortunately, most of these buildings are out of bounds to the public.
So when an event like Open House comes round, it’s a pretty big deal. Why? Because for one weekend only, these buildings open up their doors for the public to snoop around.
Open House London is an annual event that takes places once a year typically around September time.
You might feel a little deflated when I tell you some of these are offices. But in London, it’s different. Offices can be cool AF with so much emphasis quite rightly placed on architecture and design.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t actually plan on taking part. I tried before in previous years but baulked at the length of queues. I only planned on visiting the pretty amazing Guildhall Art Gallery when I found out that the adjacent Guildhall Town Hall, was part of Open House – and there were zero queues. Zilch.
So, here’s what I saw on London’s Open House Weekend 2016:
My first stop was Guildhall, a beautiful and historic Town Hall in the City, established more than 700 years ago.
Inside, you’ll see splendid interiors like this:
Next stop was The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a government building in Whitehall. The FCO “promotes the United Kingdom’s interests overseas, supporting our citizens and businesses around the globe”.
Despite an orderly queue as long as Hadrian’s wall, I was told that it moved pretty quickly and I’d be inside within an hour:
The volunteers weren’t lying,: I was inside within 52 minutes. Tip: if you’re on your own, bring a book.
The waiting was worth it. You get to see rooms like this:
A court like this:
And staircases like this:
Final stop was the HM Treasury next door. Not quite as impressive, but cool nonetheless to be granted access into a building normally out of bounds.
At least the staircase was pretty cool:
As was the courtyard:
Sadly, that was all I had time for. I reiterate I never even planned on joining the queue at all and so I was a bit all over the place as to where I wanted to go next. I did have City Hall and the Royal Albert Hall next in case you were wondering.
Next year, I might actually do the whole “wake up at 5.30am to queue for the Gherkin/Leadenhall Building” gig.
I really want to see Lloyd’s Building, again in the City and so close to the other high-rise buildings. My background in law, maritime and insurance makes it particularly attractive. But genuinely, the building interiors ranks as one of the prettiest in London. See for yourself.
Open House was sweet AF. It’s easy to point to the Gherkin, Leadenhall Building ect. and forget everything else. Don’t forget the other little gems like I have at ground-level like churches, offices, and even parks. I’ll be revolving my Open House 2017 plans around these than the obvious ones in the City.
To see more of my images from London Open House 2016, check out my gallery here.
Which buildings did you visit? Where do you want to visit next year?