Open House London returns for another fantastic weekend of architectural exploration on 21-22 September 2019, entirely free of charge. The ballots are closed for pre-booking only venues such as the BT Tower and 10 Downing Street but there are still plenty of excellent opportunities to view behind the scenes of many famous London buildings across the weekend.
With literally hundreds of places to see at Open House London 2019, we’ve put together a guide to five of the best venues that do not require advance booking.
An appropriately imposing Gothic-inspired building, designed by G E Street in the 19th century, the Royal Courts of Justice offers a wide array of activities to complement its impressive architecture. Visitors are able to tour courtrooms, holding cells, and even prison vans – you may even find yourself locked up! (Temporarily, we should add).
Strand, WC2A 2LL
Open Saturday, 10:00-16:00
Across the road from Big Ben, Portcullis House hosts offices for many MPs as well as providing meeting space for several Select Committees. The prominent glass roof that houses the ground floor interior courtyard is a particular highlight, somewhat reminiscent of a glasshouse from Kew Gardens. Visitors will also be able to view exhibitions on Peterloo and Margaret Thatcher, as well as the debut of a bust of black abolitionist Olaudah Equiano.
Victoria Embankment, SW1A 2LW
Open Saturday, 10:00-17:00
Home to the United Grand Lodge of England, Freemason’s Hall boasts a striking Art Deco facade in central London. Richly decorated throughout with mosaic and stained glass, its centerpiece, the Grand Temple hall, is particularly stunning. The building also houses a permanent museum, detailing the origins and history of freemasonry.
Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen Street, WC2B 5AZ
Open Saturday and Sunday, 13:00-17:00 (last entry at 16.30)
The only United Nations agency with a headquarters based in London, the International Maritime Organization is responsible for security, safety, and pollution control for shipping worldwide. The building’s large conference suite hosts member states for periodic meetings and offers Open House London visitors the rare and wonderful opportunity to ‘act’ as a UN representative. Security is understandably strict so remember to bring photo identification.
4 Albert Embankment, SE1 7SR
Open Saturday 10.30-16:0 and Sunday 11:00-16:00
West London’s beautiful Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a Hindu temple of staggering proportions, comprised of several thousand tonnes of marble and limestone. One of the more recently constructed Open House London buildings, the marble-laden delight opened in 1995 and shares a relatively unique mix of Eastern and Western philosophies in its design.
105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, NW10 8LD
Open Saturday and Sunday 10:00-17:00