To whet your appetite for London’s Open House weekend, we asked nine architectural luminaries to pick the building they’d choose to visit … and offer a selection of delectable alternatives.
This weekend, London’s budding architecture critics will have a field day as the capital makes a two-day exhibition of itself in the Open House weekend.
Five hundred architecturally significant buildings will be open to the public, including private residences, government buildings, offices, art spaces, banks, hospitals and schools.
Major projects still under construction don’t escape the public’s critical eye, either. Wembley stadium, St Pancras International Station and Terminal 5 at Heathrow are all taking part in the OpenSite programme.
And no visitors are so curious as the architects, who want to see first-hand what their rivals have been up to. So we asked them which buildings they’d most like to have a peek in …
Mike Davies, director, Richard Rogers Partnership
I want to remind myself of the integrity of a building that is nearly 1000 years old and made of only two materials, and whose magnificent hammer-beam roof was the most technological advanced roof structure of its time. Its simplicity, scale, sheer guts and spatial power make it one of the UK’s greatest building.
Piers Gough, CZWG Architects
I’m going to Dagenham, because it’s the site of where the Thames Gateway was done last time around, in the 1930s. Castle Green, the new PFI school by Architecture PLB and Bouygues, looks very interesting, as does Penoyre and Prasad’s Millennium Centre in Romford. It’ll be interesting to go to Dagenham instead of crawling around central London, as I usually do.
Wendy Shillum, director, ShillumSmith3
I believe you should never judge a book by its cover and I’d like to see for myself how it works. I want to see if it really is a sustainable building – whether the natural ventilation works. It’s become such an iconic building – Norman’s even got light fittings in its shape being sold in Selfridges! But I think architecture can only be judged by the person in it.
Peter Chlapowski, director PCKO
I’ve driven past this building so many times, and it always attracts me. I’d like to see Thomas Hetherington’s sculpture.
Nick Francis, associate, Piercy Conner
It’s a great example of urban living, working and playing. It’s probably more relevant to today’s issues than when this bold vision was delivered. If done today, its much criticised concrete exterior would undoubtedly be replaced with more “friendly” materials, but we believe much can be learned from its planning, open spaces and overall ethos.
Suzie Baker, associate director, ECD Architects
It’s an absolutely stunning piece of art. Timber glass and concrete sounds like quite a harsh combination for a house but it’s somehow softened. It’s a simple but beautiful use of materials.
Paul Hyatt, former president of the RIBA
"The Victorians did absolutely brilliant work in hospitals and made working law courts, all of which are complicated buildings. A law court has three completely different types of rotation – criminals, the public and judges – and they’re all intertwined in these buildings. I have just been designing a law court and I love the richness of the choreography. It’s a place where anybody can go to present their case intellectually and vigorously in the hope that something can be done that is fair and right, and I think these buildings are a fantastic part of that tradition"
Ken Shuttleworth, Make
"I would choose the Fawood school near Wembley by Will Alsop. If you look at other schools around, it’s so different to any I’ve ever seen. It’s great that the playground and classroom are integrated together. It’s a fun building and it especially stands out in a hostile neighbourhood. In fact, I wish my children went there!"
Sir Stuart Lipton, Stanhope
"A building that is very interesting and should be open to the public is Bloomberg in Old Street. It presents different world – very active and you can see all the parts of the building. And they’re very caring there – they lay on fruit and coffee"