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Curiosities – Our guide to Open House London
For two days only, 800 iconic London buildings will open their doors to the public. With just under a week to go, we’ve shortlisted the feats of architecture, urban jungles and unexpected corners that have caught our eye…
It’s no surprise that Open House London is a festival that attracts over a quarter of a million people each year – from 10 Downing Street, to roof gardens to enviable residential spaces, the possibilities are truly endless. The downside? We found it almost impossible to shortlist our top ‘places to see’. But, in the true spirit of Nest, we chose the ones that balanced sustainability with beauty, considered environmental impact and invited nature into their thoroughly urban settings. Here are our top 10…
Sun Rain Room
When: Saturday 16th (10am- 12:30pm)
Where: 5 Wilmington Square, WC1X 0ES
What: This is definitely a Nest favourite. Incorporating weather into its concept, the Sun Rain Room is an award-winning extension of a Grade-II listed Georgian townhouse, which collects water into a reflective pool. As architects Tonkin Liu said, ‘it’s a good place to be on a bad day’.
Crossrail Place Roof Garden
When: Saturday 16th, tours every hour (10am-4pm)
Where: One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, E14 5AB
What: Juxtaposed with the high rises of Canary Wharf, Crossrail’s brand new roof garden is the definition of nature invading urban space. In celebration of the docklands maritime heritage, the garden contains unusual plants from around the world, providing a green sanctuary nestled amongst the hustle and bustle of city life.
Inside the roof garden. Source: 1 Jason Gairn
When: Saturday 16th, tours every hour (10am-4pm)
Where: Rockbourne Mews, SE23 2AT
What: Forest Mews is where greenery meets structures; inspired by ivy growing over trees in the wintertime, these houses are bespoke made, utilising sunlight, textures and interesting lines to create three uniquely stunning homes. Not to mention, we think we’ve spotted some of our furniture favourites.
Horniman Museum and Gardens
When: Saturday 16th, tours every 90 mins (11am – 2pm)
Where: 100 London Road, SE23 3PQ
What: Horniman doesn’t just stand out for its clock tower, but its progressive attitude to environmental sustainability. From composting, to providing health walks for the community, everything they do aims to “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Their ethos is reflected by their green-roofed educational space, a must see Open House location.
Pear Tree House
When: Saturday 16th, tours every hour (11am-4pm)
Where:190a Friern Road, East Dulwich, SE22 0BA
What: This house is designed around a 100 year old pear tree, a tribute to the Victorian Fruit Orchard which previously existed in the area. The natural materials serve to evoke the site’s history, making it a truly symbiotic building.
The Clay House
When: Saturday 16th, tours every 45 mins (11am-2pm)
Where: Flat 3, 14 Monnery Road, N19 5RZ
What: the Clay finish on the walls and ceilings, fumed oaked panels and sash windows are just some of the elements which make ‘The Clay House’ a reflection and promotion of healthy living. Explore the bathroom plant life specifically placed to absorb humidity, the peppering of classic design pieces and the simple yet striking textures of this North London apartment.
When: Saturday 16th (11am-6pm)
Where: 83 & 85 Weston Street, SE1 3RS
What: Characterised by ‘Solidspace DNA’, Weston Street is a series of apartments with spaces for working, eating and living over an open series of three half levels. This harmony is undoubtedly reflected externally. The minimalistic appearance of the building mirrors that of the nearby Shard, but this is juxtaposed with the bricks, which reflect the history of the area.
Eight tessellating Solidspace apartments. Source: 1
When: Sunday 17th (10am-5pm)
Where: 1 Old Street Yard, Old Street, EC1V 9BR
What: Situated in the heart of London’s start-up business world, White Collar Factory is a multi-faceted workspace that, in their words, ‘respects its industrial past while being sumptuously modern’. Pay a visit and discover the innovative design that is truly indicative of a modernised and flexible way of working.
When: Sunday 17th (2pm-6pm)
Where: 81a Grove Park, SE5 8LE
What: ‘Springbank’ is one of a pair of eco-friendly homes that are defined by contemporary living, demonstrated by the thoughtful balance between interior and exterior.
The Hidden House
When: Sunday 17th (11am-6pm)
Where: 59 Kingsway Place, Sans Walk, EC1R 0LU
What: Staying true to its name, you might find this 2 bedroom house a bit difficult to find. But, situated on top of the former prison vaults of Clerkenwell House of Detention and ‘borrowing the grandeur’ of the surrounding listed buildings, it’s well worth a visit.
The one that got away
… ‘The Gap House’ is a family home designed to minimise carbon footprint. As well as its obvious quirky character, its heat-pump system, rainwater harvesting and beautifully sculpted sustainable staircase makes it an example of where stunning aesthetics meet eco-friendly design. We weren’t quick enough to get tickets to explore ‘The Gap House’, which sold out in the first day , but we couldn’t exclude it from our list of Open House favourites.
From eco-friendly residences to revolutionised office spaces, there’s no doubt that Open House provides exclusive access to some of the most inspired architectural designs. It’s not one to miss – watch this space for coverage on our favourite finds of the weekend.