Open House London offers a rare glimpse of innovative interiors

High Point, Lubetkin & Tecton

High Point, Lubetkin & Tecton - Credit: Archant

The programme for this year’s Open House London, in which visitors get a rare opportunity to explore a number of the capital’s most interesting public and private buildings, has been released.

Light House, Crawford Partnership

Light House, Crawford Partnership - Credit: Archant

The event will be held on the 21st and 22nd of September and includes a number of buildings with striking interiors that are normally hidden to public view.

Popular properties get booked up well in advance and hefty queues can form so it is worth deciding early if there are any locations you particularly want to visit. Local highlights include landmark historic buildings, contemporary renovations of period properties and innovative new builds.

One new design is 44 Willoughby Road, whose sleek minimalism punctuates the leafy Hampstead streets with its graceful white lines, both inside and out. The house is mostly open plan and has large windows on each floor, while privacy from nosy neighbours is restored by window screens. A lack of garden space on the existing site has been combated with terraces and balconies on each floor of the four-storey building.

People who live in nineteenth-century housing may be inspired by a visit to 73 Chester Road in Highgate. The property was upgraded in 2006 to become an energy efficient Victorian semi and many of the techniques used here are replicable other houses.

Alongside thorough insulation and double-glazed sash windows, heat recovery units were placed in the bathrooms, a solar hot water system was installed, and water-saving techniques were implemented, reducing the building’s carbon footprint by over 80 per cent.

Another striking renovation of a period property, with a traditional Georgian façade hiding a surprising contemporary interior, is Urban Projects Bureau’s ‘Hard Working House’ on Grafton Way in Fitzrovia.

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The three-storey rear extension was added to increase the living space for the family. A roof-top pavilion opens onto a wood-decked terrace with stunning views over central London and the neighbouring BT Tower.

Highgate residents will almost certainly be acquainted with Highpoint, the 1930s Modernist masterpiece designed by Berthold Lubetkin, the architect behind London Zoo’s penguin enclosure. Guided tours during the Open House weekend will offer non-residents a rare glimpse of the interior of the building, including access to the foyer, common parts and one of the flats, which retain many original features.

In Crouch End an award-winning brand-new build, makes intriguing use of an awkward site, previously occupied by four garages. The house wraps around a secret courtyard garden on the ground floor, while a large basement provides space for children’s bedrooms.

While the outside of the house may appear very closed, creative window placement along the top of the outside walls, skylights, floor-to-ceiling glass patio doors, and a sunken light well to the bedrooms mean that the interior is flooded with natural light, giving the Light House its name.

Nearby, the ‘folded’ roof extension at 11 Weston Park also makes creative use of lighting. The undulating, rubber-clad roof connects two existing extensions and is punctuated by unusual asymmetric and irregularly shaped skylights. At night, 150 fibre optic ceiling lights echo the starlight prettily in the open plan living space.