Get in: snoop around theses Camden buildings unlocked for Open House
- Credit: Guard Tillman Pollock
From private homes to public buildings, nearly 70 buildings in Camden are open for business for Open House weekend in September. Here’s the best of what’s open.
When Open House London returns on the weekend of the 16th and 17th September, 69 of Camden’s most elusive and mysterious buildings will be open to the public for a snoop around. All of the big names will open their doors, including Burgh House, Fenton House and, of course, Keats House, but alongside the borough’s most famous residences will be the lesser known of our local architectural gems.
Amongst architectural practices’ offices, corporate buildings and housing estates are some of the more esoteric properties and buildings that call Camden home.
Here’s our guide to what you should mark with an X in Camden:
Best for small spaces
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From Coffey Architects, Hidden House is a one storey home built in 2016 and set on top of the former vaults belonging to the Clerkenwell House of Detention. Hard to locate, it has two bedrooms and bathrooms hidden inside an oak panelled perimeter and punched roof peppered with rooflights.
Best for the Bond fan
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One of the first controversial properties acquired by The National Trust, this Modernist property was designed by Ernö Goldfinger in 1939 and still contains his collection of modern art and furniture. A terrace of three houses, it was home to the architect until his death in the late 1980s. In true Modernist style, concrete dominates the structure of the building which is clad in red brick. It is said that the local uproar over the building, which replaced older cottages, inspired the name of Ian Fleming’s Bond villain.
Best for those with their heads in the clouds
BT Tower, 45 Maple Street, W1T 4BG
Built in 1965 by GR Yeats, this icon on the London skyline is open for visitors keen to explore the famous revolving floor, 158 metres above the capital’s city floor.
Best for Brutalism
Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate, Rowley Way, NW8 0SF
Neave Brown’s famous social housing scheme is known as much for its ambition in providing a solution to the social housing question in the late 1960s as it is for its appearance in numerous television programmes and films including Kingsman: The Secret Service and Prime Suspect. Visit five flats within the estate that was Grade II* listed in 1993.
Saturday 16th only
Best for Modernism
Isokon Building, Lawn Road, NW3 2DX
Designed by renowned pre-war Modernist Wells Coates, this Grade I listed block of Hampstead flats was created for furniture designers Jack and Molly Pritchard. Other notable residents included novelist Agatha Christie and cold war spy recruiter and NKVD agent Dr Arnold Deutsch. European émigrés of the Bahaus style of architecture like Walter Gropius and Moholy-Nagy also lived in the building which became a hub of north London intellectual society. In 1937 the communal kitchen became the Isobar restaurant, which served famous faces such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
Best for conspiracy theorists
Designed in 1927, the notorious Freemasons’ Hall was designed by Ashley and Newman. Its classical exterior is matched by its elaborate interior decoration featuring mosaic, stained glass and ornate ceilings.
Best for eco warriors
This RIBA award shortlisted building was designed by Guard Tillman Pollock Architects as a floating box with integrated gardens on every level, alongside mesh screens. The new-build, open-plan structure includes sustainable features such as heat pump, PV panels and water collection mechanisms. You’ll know it when you see it.
Best for extension inspiration
Gianni Botsford Architects added this tiny glass extension to this Camden home with the intention for it to be invisible from the Canal tow path. As a result, it’s a glass box sunk into the ground.
Best for refurbishment inspiration
This transformation of a Grade II listed Victorian property in Belsize Park will show you how to tackle that tricky fusion of modernity with the Victorian fabric of north London’s housing stock. The contemporary alteration and extension by Finkernagel Ross is built almost entirely out of glass and is capped with a floating, marble-clad canopy.
Best for something old and something new
Designed by Sir Denys Lasdun, the Royal College of Physicians is renowned for its magnificent interiors and white mosaic exteriors. The now Grade I listed building was redesigned after the RCP bought Someries House in 1958 and decided to fix it up and repair bomb damage. The new building fused Lasdun’s Modernist ideals with the classical architecture of the surrounding Nash terraces.
You can see the full list of buildings opening their doors in Camden and across the rest of London here.