Open House London always makes me like London more. I started Open House Weekend at the top of the Cheesegrater, admiring the great views, and ended it in a toilet at the ArtsLav, an arts venue in former public toilets.

These are the places I visited this year:

Cheesegrater (The Leadenhall Building)
Blackfriars Arts Treasure Hunt (well, did a bit of it)
100 Victoria Embankment - Unilever House
240 Blackfriars
Billingsgate Roman House and Baths
CityPoint (Simmons & Simmons' offices and art collection)

Canary Wharf Crossrail Station construction site
Marx Memorial Library
Finsbury Town Hall
Angel Building
The Small House
It's Open House London next weekend, which I am looking forward to. Any recommendations for places to see? Cheesegrater is obviously on my list, and I have tickets to 240 Blackfriars and CityPoint. What are you planning to see?

These are some of the places I have been to in the past:

Crystal Palace Subway
Canada Water Library
Carpenters' Hall
Chartered Accountants' Hall
One Canada Square
Citigroup Centre
Brunel Museum
Battersea Power Station
Peter Jones
Holy Trinity Church
Argentine Ambassador's Residence
Romanian Cultural Institute
Adaptable House

City Hall
Westminster City Hall
The Pumphouse, Pimlico District Heating Undertaking
Limehouse Town Hall
Limehouse Accumulator Tower
Skyroom and Architecture Foundation
Masonic Temple
St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace
Custom House
Apothecaries' Hall
City of London School
One New Change

Lloyd's of London
BT Tower
Broadgate Tower + 201 Bishopsgate
30 Crown Place
Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
Spitalfields Charnel House
Sandycombe Lodge
The LuxPod
Institut français du Royaume-Uni
College of Psychic Studies
Balfron Tower
Chrisp Street Market Clocktower

Neasden Bunker
The Stables
Master Mariners
Foreign Office
Banqueting house? Admiralty house? My records are incomplete for the Saturday.
Babylon Roof Gardens
Shell Grotto
York House
Orleans Gallery
Garrick's Temple to Shakespeare

Vintner's Hall
30 St Mary Axe
Old Turkish Baths
Village Underground

Gibbs Building
Neasden Bunker
The Stables
Blizard Building
Brunel Museum

Neasden Bunker
St Anne's Church

Photos on Flickr: Open House London.
One Canada Square
I was excited to have got a ticket to visit One Canada Square during Open House London weekend.

It was the tallest building in London between 1990 and 2010, but now is only the second tallest, as the Shard is taller. The views were still great though.

The tour we were given was interesting. Firstly, we were shown a model of London with light up train lines, and then after that, a secret larger model of the Canary Wharf area, with tiny people and new buildings that had yet to be built.

We were also shown pictures of the area in 1987 (not much there), then 1991, and the present, and were told about how the area grew.

I remembered how my mum drove up to Canary Wharf in what must have been the early 1990s, and we parked there, in the car-park and wandered around. I remember it being quiet and there not being many shops open. I remember an expensive chocolate shop there then, and fountains, I think.

We were also shown the tech incubator section of the building, which had a few kinetic sculptures, a hackathon going on, and lots and lots of jars of Smarties.

The Citigroup Centre was next and we were shown an empty floor that was where Olympic planners once worked, and mostly stared out the window, and at One Canada Square.

Then we headed to the Brunel Museum. I had been on their train tours and down the shaft before, but not in the actual museum. We watched a video about Brunel. Apparently the Clifton Suspension Bridge was supposed to have sphinxes on it. We visited the 'Midnight Apothecary' - a vegetable/herb roof garden above the Thames Tunnel, and drank cocktails. I had one with pear, lavender and basil in it.

Canary Wharf
View from One Canada Square
Canada Water Library
The second place I visited during Open House Weekend was a library: Canada Water Library.

It is admittedly open to the public most days anyway, but I was drawn to it during Open House, as it was on the way to other locations I intended to go to.

I think about buildings more during Open House Weekend, I think about architecture and space, and notice different details that I would not normally. I don't feel so self-conscious taking photos in libraries, in department stores, and so on.

Canada Water Library is only a few years old, which is surprising, as a lot of libraries have closed in recent years. It is an unusual shape and sits next to the water, and there is a café at the bottom, where you can eat cake and drink coffee.
Crystal Palace Subway
Canada Water Library
Carpenters' Hall
Chartered Accountants' Hall
One Canada Square
Citigroup Centre
Brunel Museum

Battersea Power Station
Peter Jones
Holy Trinity Church
Argentine Ambassador's Residence
Romanian Cultural Institute
(Tube walk from Knightsbridge to South Kensington)
Adaptable House

More details and photos at another time.
Crystal Palace Subway

On the edge of the park at Crystal Palace is an abandoned subway full of pillars and ornate ceilings. It is Open House Weekend and I put on a hard hat and look around.

Inside the subway I wander around the pillars, and stare at what remains of the rusty light fittings, and the crumbling walls, parts of which are prettily overgrown with creepers.

A postcard of the subway depicts sphinxes, but it is not until I walk through Crystal Palace park, they are revealed, hiding amongst the undergrowth.

A leaflet says:

"The subway was intended to provide safe passage to the Crystal Palace for first class rail passengers arriving into the High Level station."

"A team of Italian Cathedral craftsmen created the Byzantine styled structure in 1865."

More information: Crystal Palace Subway website.
This weekend I visited:

1. Lloyd's of London
2. BT Tower
3. Broadgate Tower + 201 Bishopsgate
4. 30 Crown Place
5. Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
6. Spitalfields Charnel House
7. Sandycombe Lodge
8. The LuxPod
9. Institut français du Royaume-Uni
10. College of Psychic Studies
11. Balfron Tower
12. Chrisp Street Market Clocktower

Really enjoyed spending the weekend visiting such great places. Highlights include looking at amazing views and eating cupcakes in the former revolving restaurant of the BT Tower, seeing a double rainbow from 30 Crown Place, seeing great views from Lloyd's of London, Broadgate Tower and 30 Crown Place, and being pleased by the shininess also of each, standing in a pit which would have been filled with bones at Spitalfields Charnel House, wandering around a rustic villa where Turner once lived at Sandycombe Lodge, being impressed by the design of the LuxPod ("Described as a luxury room on the rocket hotel to Mars") and how they've made such great use of a small space, looking at old French books and big posters of Audrey Tautou in the Institut français du Royaume-Uni (French Cultural Institute in the UK), seeing contorted cutlery, photos with ghosts in, and spirit drawings at the College of Psychic Studies, seeing the great brutalist architecture of the Balfron Tower and admiring the views, and finding out that it was in 28 Days Later (I will have to watch it again), climbing up the steps of the Chrisp Street Market Clocktower and staring at Canary Wharf (even though I am not convinced by the spelling of 'Chrisp'). Also read 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School while travelling from place to place. Hoping to continue visiting places mentioned in the Open House London guide that are open other times of the year, as waiting a whole year to see more seems far too long.
Blizard Building lecture theatre
Blizard Building lecture theatre
My last weekend in London (September 20th and 21st) coincides with Open House London Weekend, so I'm hoping to see some cool buildings before I leave. Anyone else thinking of going, and if so, to what?

I've been to the Neasden Bunker twice before, but am thinking of going again. Anyone want to join me?
Open House London Weekend 2007 happened on the 15th and 16th of September and it was then that I saw Vintners' Hall, 30 St Mary Axe, Old Turkish Baths and the Village Underground.

1. Vintners' Hall is also known as the spiritual home of the wine trade, but unfortunately photographs were not allowed, and actually, no-one seemed to be drinking wine. There were impressive chandeliers, old bottles, and labels that perhaps were once stuck to wine bottles (including "mouthwash").

2. 30 St Mary Axe is better known as the "Gherkin" and booking a ticket to visit the 40th floor during Open House Weekend involves pressing "refresh" a lot around the time when tickets are supposed to appear, but is worth it. From the top, there is an amazing view of London. The Gherkin itself is also impressive, so seeing it from the inside was interesting.

Old  Turkish Baths
3. The Old Turkish Baths are now an Italian restaurant, Ciro's Pizza Pomodoro, but they have retained some of their original features, so interesting details and patterns can be found, as well as pizza. Since it's a restaurant, it's obviously open other times as well as Open House Weekend. (The next London Open House Weekend is apparently on the 20th and 21st of September 2008.)

Village Underground
4. The Village Underground consists of a number of artists' studios that have been made out of recycled tube trains. They have been painted and refitted and some even look like they are about to fly off the top of buildings.

(After that, [ profile] fluffymark and I headed to See for "ice dragon" ice-cream, as well as strawberry and balsamic vinegar ice-cream.)

More photos on Flickr: Open House London.

I'm in Kent now and am tempted to play amongst the hay bales.
I watched Before Sunset again recently and am thinking about the scene where Céline says, "Now that we've met again, we can change our memory of that December 16th. It no longer has that sad ending of us never seeing each other again. Right?" and Jesse replies, "Yeah, you’re right. I guess a memory is never finished. As long as you're alive..."

I suppose that's how I'm trying to think at the moment, about Southampton, that my memories of it aren't finished.
I received the Open House London guide for September 15th and 16th and am trying to decide what to see. Is anyone else intending to go?


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