For one weekend next month (16-17 September), a number of London’s ordinarily private buildings, landmarks and residences, will be open to the public. Directed by Rory Olcayto, critic and editor of the Architects’ Journal, Open House was started in 1992 as a non-profit organisation to promote public awareness and appreciation of the capital’s design and architecture. The annual event unlocks London’s unique buildings to visitors who don’t otherwise have access to them. The concept, which was initiated by Open-City over twenty years ago has now extended to thirty locations worldwide, including New York, Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Rome, Helsinki, and Chicago. From hidden homes to monolithic towers, Something Curated takes a look at the best on offer at this year’s Open House London.
6 Wood Lane || Birds Portchmouth Russum
6 Wood Lane is a distinct home, enthusiastically crafted by its owners as a self-build project over more than seven years. Its idiosyncratic style connects each design aspect; from its curving form hovering above the street, to the detail of a chain operated roof light. The architect’s ambition was to create a home for urban living, which contrasts tightly planned functional spaces with generous living spaces to maximize daylight and views. The building achieves this spatial contrast: a small entrance, tiny bathrooms and boat-like staircases, uncurl into connected living spaces, with views between areas in the house and out into the garden.
6 Wood Lane, Highgate, London N6 5UB
Fitzrovia Chapel || John Loughborough Pearson
The Fitzrovia Chapel is a magnificent Grade II listed building that was originally housed within The Middlesex Hospital. Awarded the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects gold medal in 1880, JL Pearson worked on some of Britain’s finest ecclesiastical buildings, including Truro Cathedral, Bristol Cathedral and St Margaret’s, Westminster. Today the chapel has a new setting, within a modern square named after the architect. The aesthetic was inspired by Gothic architecture of north Germany and Italy. One of the most striking features of the chapel is the beautiful and ornate mosaic ceiling of the chancel.
2 Pearson Square, off Mortimer Street, W1T 3BF
Dennis Severs House || Unknown
Formerly part of the St John’s and Tillards Estate, when Folgate Street was known as White Lion Street, Dennis Severs House still retains many of its original features, including a striking panelled interior and staircase both installed in 1724.
18 Folgate Street, E1 6BX
Sun Rain Room || Tonkin Liu
The Sun Rain Room is a two-storey extension and restoration of a Grade-II Listed Georgian townhouse. The extension reframes the rear of the building by amplifying the characteristics found within its fabric. Designed and constructed by Tonkin Liu in collaboration with local craftspeople, it serves as both a studio for the practice and a home for the partners’ family. The perimeter walls of the rear courtyard support a plywood roof, curved in plan and section to allow maximum light into a patio garden. Rainwater gathered at the top of the townhouse falls through a pipe, following the roof’s curving leading edge to a spout over a long rainwater harvesting tank. The tank floods the patio at the push of a button, transforming it into a reflecting pool.
5 Wilmington Square, WC1X 0ES
Regent Street Cinema || Tim Ronalds Architects (Refurbishment)
Following a three year campaign, the Regent Street Cinema was re-opened by the University of Westminster in 2015, reinstating the historic cinema to its former grandeur. It was originally opened in 1848 when a new theatre was added on to what was then the Royal Polytechnic Institution. In 1896, the Polytechnic’s theatre became the birthplace of cinema in the UK, when the Lumière brothers’ Cinématographe machine was demonstrated to the press and public. Today, the cinema’s programme, which regularly offers double-bills, includes rare footage, documentaries, student work, as well as independent features from British and international filmmakers.
309 Regent St, Marylebone, W1B 2UW
Hidden House || Coffey Architects
The home sits above former prison vaults belonging to the Clerkenwell House of Detention, built in 1847, and next to a former Victorian School, Kingsway Place. The home features a series of internal spaces constrained in plan by a listed perimeter garden curtilage and held in section by a series of floating ocular rooflights. Hidden House successfully connects the residents to the landscape and sky and borrows the grandeur of the adjacent listed buildings to create an internal spatial monumentality. This special place is rather tricky to find, but well worth the effort.
59 Kingsway Place, Sans Walk, EC1R 0LU
Roca London Gallery || Zaha Hadid Architects
Located at Chelsea Harbor, this 1,100m2 showroom space was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects for the Spanish bathroom brand Roca. The formal language mimicked that of water, with Zaha’s typical sinuous, undulating style taking on a particularly holistic character. As the current of the building ebbs and flows in a series of connected motions, the facade and interior fold over upon each other, effectively merged by the sculpted white concrete on either side, while the ambient light fixates the movement of the building around a central axis and creates the sensation of being submerged.
Station Court, Townmead Road, SW6 2PY
Clay House || Simon Astridge Architecture Workshop
The top two floors of a five storey Victorian townhouse were reimagined by Simon Astridge Architecture Workshop as a unique maisonette called the Clay House. Natural clay was chosen as a wall and ceiling finish throughout the apartment, dug by hand in north Cornwall. The clay controls humidity below 70% that promotes a healthy living environment with less bacteria. The existing Victorian brickwork fabric was left exposed to maximize the scale of the space and to compliment the clay.
Flat 3, 14 Monnery Road, N19 5RZ
Old Waiting Room at Peckham Rye Station || Benedict O’Looney Architects
Built in 1865 by the noteworthy architect Charles Henry Driver, Peckham Rye Station is a local Victorian masterpiece. Since platform re-ordering in the 1960s much of the interior was bricked up and disused. In 2007, following the building becoming Grade II listed, Benedict O’Looney Architects embarked on opening up this local treasure. They have repaired and re-made numerous windows and doors, opened up and refurbished the floor of the large old Waiting Room, created a new colour scheme for the booking hall and station joinery, and revealed a cast iron and stone staircase.
Station Arcade, Rye Lane, SE15 5DQ
Lloyd’s of London || Richard Rogers
From the moment Richard Rogers’ plan for the Lloyd’s Building was unveiled it divided opinion. Undoubtedly one of the City of London’s most iconic landmarks, the metallic towers stand in stark contrast to the neoclassical, faux-deco and postmodern pastiches that made up much of the areas construction throughout the 1980s. Unlike previous Rogers’ designs, the Lloyd’s Building is almost devoid of any colour bar the occasional blue girder. Instead, service stairways, pipes and cranes are left completely unfinished giving the building the appearance of a giant engine that is almost gothic in its levels of detail.
1 Lime St, London, EC3M 7HA
Feature image: Burntwood School by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (via Royal Institute of British Architects)