TWENTY YEARS OF OPEN HOUSE

I’m just putting my feet up after my second decade of London Open House weekends. I haven’t missed one, and what amazing times I’ve had. From the tiniest of private homes to the grandest public building almost every place I’ve visited has been really memorable in some way — usually some quirky aspect of its occupant’s life.

This weekend I’ve seen a city office that features a herb garden for the chef to create amazing lunches at £4.50 a shot to try and prevent staff going outside during the day. I’ve explored the construction site at the British Museum and seen one of the handful of leading edge machines that can extract clay from deep holes through a tube and spew it out into a truck, rather than laboriously digging it out. And I’ve toured the massive new development at King’s Cross that mixes restored Victorian warehouses, futuristic office towers and a garden planted in a row of skips.

I’ve also been into four private homes, and nosied around the bedrooms and bathrooms, looking at everything from fabulous rainforest showers to a bed perched on top of a wardrobe to utilise the minute space. I can understand why architect owners of homes allow the public to come and visit, and many people go away clutching their business cards. But the people,who invite you in purely out of a desire to share the place where they love living are the real heroes of Open House. Big thanks are due to the two couples who welcomed the crowds into their Barbican mews house and into their maisonette in the Golden Lane estate.

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