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  • Writer's pictureIna

Exploring Architectural Marvels: 2023 Open House London Must-Visit List

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

London, a city renowned for its rich history and captivating architecture, opens its doors wide during the annual Open House London event. As this year's event approaches (taking place between 6-17 September) I'm thrilled to present a curated list of must-visit locations that promise to take you on a journey through time, culture, and design. From university campuses to diplomatic residences, prepare to be captivated by the architectural wonders that define our global metropolis.

The St Pancras Chambers and Clock Tower

📍 The Forecourt, St Pancras Station, Euston Road

📅 Drop in: 16 & 17 Sep

The St Pancras Chambers and Clock Tower stand as guardians of Victorian elegance. Transport yourself to an era of opulence and marvel at the intricate details that have stood the test of time. Every corner exudes a sense of grandeur, reflecting an era when aesthetics were paramount and craftsmanship was revered. The St Pancras Chambers and Clock Tower have transcended their physical forms to become cultural icons. They symbolize the fusion of architectural brilliance with the stories of the people who have passed through their doors. Book a guided visit here. (See photos from my last year's visit here or read more about the famous staircase)

The Standard, London

📍 10 Argyle St, WC1H 8EG

📅 Drop in: 16 & 17 Sep

Experience contemporary luxury at The Standard, London. The fusion of modern design and cutting-edge architecture offers a glimpse into the city's evolving skyline. The Standard, London, isn't just a hotel; it's an embodiment of London's spirit. It's a space where architecture becomes a canvas for storytelling, where modernity and heritage coexist in harmony. If you seek a luxurious experience that captures the essence of the city's evolution, The Standard, London, is your gateway to a world of architectural wonder and cultural discovery. Book your visit here.

University of Westminster

📍 309 Regent Street, W1B 2UW

📅 Drop in: 16 & 17 Sep

At the heart of the city's academic hub lies the University of Westminster. Step onto its campuses to witness a harmonious blend of contemporary design and historic significance. Explore spaces where innovation meets education, as you immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of a modern academic institution. The exterior is characterized by its neo-classical façade, a design that harks back to the architectural styles of the 19th century. The symmetry, decorative elements, and grandeur of the façade pay homage to a bygone era while seamlessly integrating with the surrounding urban landscape.

King's College London: The Maughan Library

📍 Chancery Lane, WC2A 1LR

📅 Drop in: 16 & 17 Sep

The Maughan Library stands as a testament to the power of knowledge. As you venture into this majestic library, you'll encounter more than just books; you'll experience the culmination of centuries of wisdom. Delve into a space that transcends time, where history and learning come together in architectural harmony. The Maughan Library's architecture seamlessly integrates historic and modern elements. While the exterior captures the essence of neo-Gothic splendor, the interiors showcase a harmonious blend of traditional and contemporary spaces designed to accommodate the needs of modern scholars.

Argentine Ambassador's Residence

📍 49 Belgrave Square, SW1X 8QZ

📅 Drop in: 16 Sep

Diplomatic elegance takes center stage at the Argentine Ambassador's Residence. Open House London offers a rare opportunity to step into the world of international relations. Immerse yourself in cultural nuances and intricate design, as you explore a space that bridges nations through architectural diplomacy.

Royal Courts of Justice

📍 Strand, WC2A 2LL

📅 Drop in: 16 Sep

The Royal Courts of Justice invite you to witness the heart of the legal world. As you traverse its corridors and chambers, the gravity of the institution's purpose is palpable. Be awed by the intricate details that adorn its interiors, reflecting the solemnity and grandeur of the legal system.

Draper's Hall

📍 Throgmorton Street, EC2N 2AN

📅 Drop in: 17 Sep, 11:00–16:00

A magnificent example of classical architecture and an embodiment of historical grandeur. The façade that exudes timeless elegance with its stately columns and intricate stone detailing. The interior is a masterpiece of design, featuring opulent reception rooms adorned with exquisite chandeliers, ornate woodwork, and impressive artwork. The Great Hall, in particular, is a grand space with a soaring ceiling and majestic windows that flood the room with natural light. Step inside this testament to London's enduring tradition of craftsmanship and refinement. (More here)

The Marshall Building - London School of Economics and Political Science

📍 44 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LY

📅 Drop in: 9th & 10th September

Embark on a guided tour of The Marshall Building, a place where education and architecture intertwine. Gain insight into the deliberate design that fosters learning and collaboration. Discover how every corner is purposefully crafted to shape the future minds of London. More details here.

The Banqueting House

📍 Whitehall, SW1A 2ER

📅 Drop in: Sun 10 & 17 Sep, from 10:00 to 16:30. There may be queues at busy times.

An architectural gem that marries Renaissance grandeur with timeless classical design. Commissioned by King James I in the early 17th century, this historic building is renowned for its iconic white Portland stone façade and impressive columns. Designed by Inigo Jones, it represents one of the earliest examples of Palladian architecture in England. The interior is equally captivating, featuring a vast hall adorned with a magnificent painted ceiling by Peter Paul Rubens, depicting the glorification of James I. (more here)

Panoramic views of London, seen from the top of the BT Tower
The breath-taking view from the top of the BT Tower

BT Tower

📍 45 Maple Street, W1T 4BG

📅 Public ballot. 9th & 10th September

Elevate your Open House experience at the BT Tower. From this vantage point, London unveils itself in all its splendor. The BT Tower offers breathtaking views that stretch across the city's iconic skyline, providing a perspective that's truly unparalleled. Enter ballot here.

Royal Opera House

📍 Covent Garden, Bow Street, WC2E 9DD

📅 Drop in: 9th & 10th September (expect queues)

From its neoclassical façade to its stunning interiors, the Royal Opera House is a blend of architectural styles that span centuries. Marvel at the intricate ornamentation, the majestic staircases, and the opulent auditorium that come together to create an atmosphere of refined splendor.

Sambourne House

📍 18 Stafford Terrace, London W8 7BH

📅 Drop in: Friday 15 September, 12pm-5:30pm (last entry 4:30pm)

Visit a charming townhouse, once the residence of cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne. A splendid example of late Victorian architecture, Sambourne House showcases the eclectic style of the era. Its façade is adorned with ornate red-brick detailing and a charming bay window, while the interiors boast richly decorated rooms with intricate wallpapers, stained glass, and period furnishings. Get ready for a captivating glimpse into the opulent domestic life of the late 19th century. (Check out my visit here).

Leighton House

📍 12 Holland Park Rd, London W14 8LZ

📅 Drop in: Friday 15 September, 12pm-5:30pm (last entry 4:30pm)

Another masterful embodiment of the aesthetic movement of the 19th century. The former home of artist Frederic, Lord Leighton, this Kensington mansion is renowned for its Orientalist and artistic design. The interiors are a symphony of vibrant color, intricate mosaics, and impressive domed ceilings, creating a captivating fusion of art and architecture. Leighton House stands as a testament to the artist's commitment to creating a harmonious and visually stimulating environment for his work and personal life. (More about it here).

Open House London is an extraordinary event that invites you to uncover the stories hidden within the city's architectural treasures. As you navigate through these remarkable spaces, you're not merely visiting buildings but connecting with the essence of London's past, present, and future. So, as the city's doors swing open, seize the opportunity to embrace the architectural wonders that define London's soul – a journey that promises inspiration, enrichment, and a deeper connection to the heart of this dynamic metropolis. Check out the Festival Programme here. Enter ballots to visit 10 Downing Street, the BT Tower, and more architectural gems here. Happy visiting!


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