Open House London | My Favourite Venues by Photographer Aaron Yeoman
It’s that time of year again when people start planning to what I believe is one of the best free events that London has to offer and that is Open House London.
Open House London has been going since 1992 and for those who don’t know much about it or have never been, basically its a weekend every September where London opens its doors of some famous and inspiring building to the general public like me and you, all for free!! Lasts years event said there were approx. 800 venues involved so more than plenty to choose from. Some of the venues you have to pre book by sending an email to certain venues, others you enter a ballot for and others you just turn up on the day. You can buy a guide which is posted to you about a week before the listings go live on their website and this gives you all the details that you need.
This year will be my 5th Open House event and its something I look forward to every year. I regularly get emails and messages via Social media and the various places I post my work online asking about advice on which places to visit. I always like to share my experiences with people and so I thought it would be worth doing a blog post on some of my favourite venues that I have visited over the last 5 years and of course some of my favourite images too.
I hope this will be helpful for you all, especially for those who have never done an Open House event before or for those who are not sure on where to visit this year, of course feel free to share this little guide.
If you want any advise on any of these buildings or Open House London in general feel free to email me or tweet me on Twitter.
Lloyds of London, 1 Lime Street, London
My first ever building I visited back in my first Open House in 2010. I wasn’t too sure what to expect but upon entry I was greeted with this massive atrium and collection of escalators. Dubbed the ‘Inside out Building’ as it looks like it has been designed that way from when you look at it from the outside, stunningly done by architect Richard Rogers.
Certainly well worth a visit and a good one to start with if it’s your first Open House. Try to visit as soon as the doors open as the queues will be the smallest as queues in the afternoon can become quite large but do move quite quickly. Photography is welcomed but no tripods and you will have to check your tripod in if you have one in a cloakroom.
City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London
This would be the next building I would suggest visiting after you have been to Lloyd’s of London, its not too far away and it is spectacular! Designed by Sir Norman Foster and is quite an unusual shape to look at from the outside, it makes you look at it for ages, gazing at all the intricate details and geometric shapes. Housed within the building is it’s ‘Trump Card’ which is it’s spiral staircase or only just recently somewhere called it a spiral ramp, what ever you want to call it, you will not be disappointed and it’s probably one the most photographed buildings on the Open House Weekend. Again no tripods and queues can get quite large if left later on in the day to visit hence my advice to go straight away after Lloyd’s of London if you have had an early start, saying that the queues do move very quick.
The Battleship Building, Harrow Road, London
This was a building I visited back in 2012 and I didn’t know too much about it apart from the cool name it had. The reason why it is called this is that the building does look like something straight off a WW2 battleship, even down to the colour of Battleship Grey. Anyway, this building was derelict for many years before being converted into Offices and nestled inside is this fabulous Art Deco staircase which I just couldn’t stop photographing during my visit. I couldn’t believe my luck as I didn’t know this staircase was here and for those who regularly follow my work I love spiral staircases. No queues at all at this one and no problem with tripods either.
Royal Ballet School, Floral Street, London
Probably one of my favourite photos I have ever taken from all of my Open House events and this is from the Royal Ballet School. We were treated to a great tour by a very knowledgeable tour guide and they then showed us this bridge which was called ‘The Bridge of Aspiration’. It certainly messes with your eyes when walking across this bridge and it links the Royal Ballet School to the Royal Opera House just across the street. This venue was a turn up and queue venue although the tours were in groups of 8-10 people. From what I remember again no tripods were allowed due to the space etc.
The Angel Building, Saint John Street, London
A really cool building to visit, very modern office development bought back to life after being a typical 80’s office building in its previous life. The highlight for me was the interesting art installation in the main atrium called ‘Out of the Strong Came Forth Sweetness’. You can’t miss it when you walk in and its meant to resemble when you drop treacle from a spoon, sounds odd I know but you’ll see what I mean when you go. From what I remember you just turn up to this, no need to pre-book. I don’t think there were any issues in using tripods in the main atrium part, not overly busy either.
1 Bishops Square, London
Another top favourite of all the buildings I have visited over the last few years and one that I might revisit this year if I have time. A very modern and cool office development next to Liverpool Street Station, some would say maybe a bit clinical but I quite like it. Nestled inside is this wonderful art installation using round lights in various colours, all hung from the roof inside a glass atrium. Me and my friend Mark (pictured in the photo) stayed for ages taking photos of this wonderful art installation, it does seem a common theme to have art installations within office buildings and unless you worked in these buildings you wouldn’t normally see them, this is what Open House London is great for. Again just turn up to this event, no queues when I went although there is bag security checks upon arrival to this one. They don’t allow tripods although they didn’t take them off us, just don’t use them within the building.