All over the world there are architectural marvels that many people don’t get the chance to see, mainly because of access limitations, whether it is the stretches of tunnels underneath the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, grain stores in Vienna, or the defunct TWA terminal at JFK Airport in New York. Many of these structures are significant, either because of the design, the role they originally played or the reflection they hold of the period in which they were built. It is a shame that there are very few or no opportunities to see many of them.
If you’re interested in visiting little-seen examples of residential and commercial architecture, you’re in luck. There is a fantastic opportunity to visit some of these properties annually on the Open House weekend. This great initiative sees structures opened for a short period so visitors can enter and experience them. This is a great chance for both architects and members of the general public who are interested in architecture and history. A big bonus of the scheme is that many of the properties are free to visit.
The Open House initiative started in 1992 and has expanded year on year as more and more cities join in. There are currently 20 different cities taking part, ranging from London to Barcelona, Brisbane to Nicosia. Many of the properties were designed by notable architects so this is a great opportunity to see some rare work up close.
In London alone there are over 800 different locations to choose from and the weekend has taken off to such as extent that it has become a full festival. People from around the world flock to the city for the event to see some of the amazing properties, many of which mark the history of London. There is even a chance to see inside the Bank of England.
Every architect in London should take advantage of the opportunity to see rare buildings in their home city. They can provide inspiration for new designs and also let people avoid some of the mistakes that have meant ideas with huge potential didn’t take off as well as they could have.
At locations around the world there are guided tours so visitors can learn about the properties they are visiting, including the reasons why they have fallen into disuse. The Open House weekend offers some rare opportunities and shouldn’t be missed by anybody who loves commercial architecture.