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The Coolest "Open House London" visit: The New Scotland Yard

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

As the Open House London festival includes the New Scotland Yard in its annual highlights, here’s a short introduction to the iconic building. (Line of Duty fans, this could be your next Tourist-in-London mission!).

Located a stone throw's away from the Houses of Parliament and formerly known as the Curtis Green Building, the New Scotland Yard is the metonym for the headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police, the territorial police force in charge of all 32 boroughs of London.

Why is it called “New Scotland Yard”?

In other words: was there an old Scotland Yard? Yes, as a matter of fact, it was. The name of the building is derived from the original Met Police headquarters situated at 4 Whitehall Place where an area of the palace was known as Scotland. Its rear entrance was on the Great Scotland Yard street, and as it gradually became the public entrance to the police station, in time, the Metropolitan Police Service building became synonymous with the street.

The award-winning design of MET’s new home

The New Metropolitan Police’s home on the Westminster Embankment gave a new, radical lease of life to the 1930s Curtis Green building by adding rear and rooftop extensions, along with an elegantly curved glass pavilion entrance and bomb-proof glazing.

The rooftop extension features multi-use conference rooms and terraces and is well-lit to signal nigh-time presence, symbolising the 24/7 nature of the Met Police’s civic purpose. The visionary design by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) that combines openness and security even received the 2017 Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award.

Besides expanding the floor area with over 3300sqm, the contemporary re-modelling scheme elevated the architectural features of the original building as well as the proportions, colours, and materials of adjacent Whitehall buildings.

As for the initial building, its transformation shifted towards a more flexible, agile, modern, and efficient office environment to facilitate seamless interaction and collaboration.

Visiting the New Scotland Yard during the Open House festival

The only time the New Scotland Yard is open for public viewing is during the annual Open House London Festival. The procedure is simple as the entry is arranged by public ballot and winners are notified by email.

The visit usually takes around 30 minutes, and guests should be prepared for in-depth airport-level security checks. Oh, and about that - Cool Factor alert: expect to have your liquids/hand sanitizers/wet wipes sealed in evidence bags that you’ll recover on your way out.

The areas you’ll get to see are the pavilion (serving as the waiting room), the entrance hall and you’ll then be escorted to the rooftop extension.

There’s also a short, welcoming intro recorded by Dame Cressida Dick, the current Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service that you'll be watching.

Now the rooftop part of the visit is the most exciting one, with a representative of the AHMM who designed the building speaking about the project and answering questions.

For Instagram bunnies: the views over London, with a unique perspective of the Thames and the London Eye are absolutely stunning, so make the most of the outside terrace on top.

When leaving, snap a few shots of the vintage police cars right by the rotating "New Scotland Yard" sign, and your mission is officially completed. Enjoy and add it to your must-see list for the next year's Open House.

New Scotland Yard Address:

📍 Victoria Embankment, SW1A 2JL, London, United Kingdom.

🚇 The nearest London Underground stations are Westminster (on the District, Circle, and Jubilee Lines) and Embankment (on the Bakerloo, Northers, District, and Circle Lines).

📅 The London Open House Festival takes place every year over the first one or two weekends of September.

*All photos were taken by Ina/WithinLondon, unless stated otherwise.


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