A staggering 800 buildings in all 33 boroughs are taking part in Open House London weekend. Philippa Stockley goes exploring
TO MARK the 25th year of Open House London, the annual celebration of the city’s best buildings will include all 33 boroughs for the first time. The event — being held over the weekend of September 16-17 — will offer free entry to 800 properties, plus talks and walks focusing on the buildings themselves and on the neighbourhoods where we live, work and play. Last year 250,000 Lon- doners took part. This year a welcome trend in new homes and one-off housing is inventiveness with renewable materials, especially timber: from cross-laminated plywood that’s super-strong for structural use, to hardwoods including oak, ash — even burnt exterior timber.
There’s also a strong showing for brick, which in the right hands is transformative. Meanwhile, several homes triumph over tight or difficult sites or work mira- cles with tiny inside space, in some cases making use of ingenious bespoke furniture. It’s the London of the future. There’s also a big hurrah for an intrepid group who tore down their old block of flats to make fantastic new homes. Here’s our pick of the bunch, including one home so new, it’s only just being finished.
FOR GUARANTEED WOW FACTOR
6 Wood Lane, Highgate, by Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects: this house with double-height rooms, a smokers balcony and a semi-circular winter garden appears to be straight out of Thunderbirds. It’s a thrilling new home that will make your heart skip a beat. Hidden House, Clerkenwell Green, by Coffey Architects: Coffey is brilliant with difficult spaces and on this constrained site, light is brought in from floating rooflights, used to advantage in a serene house that’s smart and very private.
SMALL IS GORGEOUS
Islington Micro Flat, by CIAO (Creative Ideas & Architecture Office): this compact home cleverly shows off what you can do with just 385sq ft of space. Check out the sliding-out bed and the drawers in the stairs. The furniture is all bespoke and looks great. Genius. A Kitchen on Wheels, Wood Green, by Turner Architects: inside a cute Victorian railway cottage, the architects used a metamorphic piece of furniture on wheels — a total kitchen that also works as a room divider or a bookcase, pushed aside for parties.
Sail Street, Lambeth, by HKR Architey: the smallest flat on show at developer Pocket Living launche q ft, super high-set windows bring in impressive new scheme of 27 one-of light, while the interiors are made room flats, including one wheelch free or found materials. It’s The Boraccess, plus three two-bedroom hoers’ style for the modern age. and a shared roof terrace. Local dents get 35 per cent off the ma value. Pocket works hard to create h quality living spaces, and it shows.
1a Woodland Road, Crystal Paletts Grove, Stoke Newington, by Amin
designed by Melinda Styles and nated timber instead of steel for the
structure of six units, which are then brick-faced outside. The six homes in this slender block are woody inside and they have striking wicker balconies. Deserving winner of a RIBA London award.
35 Lutwyche Road, Lewisham, by BAM! architecture studio: on a tiny end-of-terrace plot, the finishing touches are being put to a triangular courtyard home which uses skylights well, but where the
big attraction is striking burnt-timber cladding — it sits brilliantly alongside its Victorian brick neighbour.
Domino Houses, Wood Green, by Studio Verve: black again, but this time in brick, also shows to good advantage at Domino Houses. This scheme of eight homes with curving green roofs — and the striking porthole windows that prompted the name Domino — was a deserving finalist in the 2016 Brick Awards. Foundry Mews, Barnes High Street, SW13, by Project Orange: another bricky winner, this time on a tricky backland site that has been turned into a sustainable development of seven homes on top of workshops, set along a courtyard. Lovely, well-done brick detailing really lifts the exteriors.
Hafer Road, Wandsworth, by Peter Barber Architects: for sheer brick-balled verve, have a look at Hafer Road. The residents of a council block all bought their flats, then they clubbed together to co-build this striking development instead that gives them bigger apartments for growing or extended families. Seven flats for residents were funded by eight flats for sale. Smart flats, smart thinking, and a brilliant model for future housing. For full details and the guide, visit openhouselondon.org.uk
Hidden House: floating rooflights bring light flooding into this home tucked away in a secluded Clerkenwell location
Visit for free: the spectacular Grade I-listed Great Barn at Harmondsworth in Hillingdon, rescued by English Heritage and restored to its medieval glory, will welcome Open House London visitors
Barretts Grove: this slender Stokey block has a brick façade and wicker balconies
Wow factor: 6 Wood Lane, Highgate, with double-height rooms and a winter garden