Friday, 18 September 2015

Open House in south east London

It's Open House London this weekend, the one time in the year that you get to snoop behind the doors of buildings, houses and other structures that are normally off limits to the public.

It's also a great opportunity for me to write something fluffy and cuddly for any commenters who think I should stop moaning and pretend everything's rosy in the garden. Don't expect me to keep it up though - I'm far more interested in digging into murky dealings by local landowners or commenting on planning applications. If you're looking for jolly restaurant reviews, events listings and bland observations about the local area you'll be sure to find them elsewhere.

On the doorstep
If you want to keep it local, there's plenty to see in and around Deptford and they are all worth a look if you haven't been before. These are Deptford Green School (you will have to be well-organised, only on Saturday 10-11.30); Deptford Lounge (tours on Sunday 11-5); Rachel McMillan Nursery School and Children's Centre (Saturday 10-1); South East London Combined Heat & Power station (Sunday 10-3); Seager Distillery Tower (Saturday 10-5, Sunday, 10-1).

Through the looking glass at the top of the Seager tower

Don't be confused by the suggestion of 'tours' at the Seager Distillery Tower - it's essentially a lift to the top floor where you get to enjoy the views. While dramatic, they are a bit restricted by the fact that the glazing is substantial and it's not fully 360 degrees, more like about 250 degrees around. But still worth it.

A bit more effort
If you want to go a bit further afield and are looking for something a bit different, here's some ideas.  I've tried to avoid any where pre-booking is required - these are all turn up on the day.

Trinity Hospital, Greenwich
A chance for a closer look at this lovely building should not be passed up - drop by on Saturday between 10am and 4pm and you'll be granted admission to the courtyard and chapel of the early 17th century almshouses, which sit somewhat incongruously next to the looming brick of the old power station. And you have the splendid Cutty Sark pub just a few minutes away for great ale and food.

Saturday 10-4

Severndroog Castle, Oxleas Wood
Even if you don't manage to get here for the free tours on Sunday, I recommend a visit some other time. There's not a whole lot to see in the actual building, but the views will keep you up on the tower top for some time. When I visited it was cold and drizzly - the tower top had been closed earlier that day due to the pissing rain - but we still lingered for some time, admiring the views and trying to work out what everything was and spot the familiar landmarks.

There's also a cafe in the bottom selling lovely soup, sandwiches and cake - you can sit outside on fine days - and of course you have the whole of the woodlands to enjoy too.

Bring plastic boxes for blackberries either here or on nearby Woolwich Common.

Sunday 10.30 to 4.30

I went on a tour of this new building in the heart of Greenwich when it opened a year ago, and was greatly impressed - little wonder it's nominated for this year's Stirling Prize. Definitely worth visiting, there's plenty to see behind the striking facade - including roof garden study spaces, a TV studio, beautiful library and plenty of other interesting study spaces. I visited just ahead of the first student intake - it will be fascinating to see how and if it's changed.

Saturday 10-5
Sunday 10-5

You'll have to excuse me for including this crime against architecture in my list, but I do have good reason. Firstly, it's always better to be inside an ugly building looking out, and secondly I reckon there could be some good views to be had. Apparently it has the largest pillarless ballroom in Europe (3,100sqm since you ask), 453 rooms, conference spaces and 'sky bar' (is that some kind of celestial structural engineering gadget?) in its 18-storied glory.

There's no detail of which of these attractions you get to visit in the guided tours, but hey, it's free!

Saturday 10-1 (tours on the hour)

Under construction - arguably more attractive than now

Slice of reality, Thames Path near the O2 Arena.

I've been trying to get on this chopped up bit of ship that hovers on the fringe of the river next to the Millennium Dome for years but always seem to miss it! It's a combined sculpture/studio for its creator Richard Wilson, which explains why you will sometimes see it occupied. Diamond Geezer went to it during Open House a few years ago and his blog post tells the interesting story of how it came to be there.

Saturday 10-5

(Photo: Chris J Dixon)

There's plenty more gems in the listings that I just don't have time to cover, including 'Many ways to sit: the social dynamics of General Gordon Square' in Woolwich, which takes a look at the public realm, the problems and potential of seating in public places - presumably how to balance the needs of the general public against the perceived problem of attracting street drinkers and the like.

Use the listings here to search by borough, date or type of building. Open House has also created an app which is available for £2.99 and is a great way of supporting the charity that organises this annual event.

1 comment:

david guetta said...

there have outstanding Open House in south east London thanks for bring this kind of authentic and glories post with.

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