Open House London (September 17-18) always draws the crowds and there is something to please everyone this year in a bumper edition.
The event will see 750 buildings thrown open to the public, with 200 showing for the first time, including beautifully designed private homes.
Rich pickings include new builds, extensions, refurbishments and small developments, providing plenty of ideas if you’ve got the home improvement itch.
SMALL AND BEAUTIFUL
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners offers a double whammy. In Merton, Y:Cube is on show after launching a year ago, using “micro-home” expertise. These small, brilliant modular homes are built off-site. The YMCA rents them to formerly homeless people at 60 per cent of market rent as a stepping stone.
Lord Rogers’ practice is also showing Place/Ladywell, a “pop-up” development in Lewisham that uses similar units to Y:Cube stacked on a plot currently stuck in planning. Instead of leaving the plot empty Lewisham has 24 housing units. It won the Mayor of London’s award for housing. Let’s hope other boroughs copy the idea.
Hackney has the biggest selection of homes, including two new builds. The Makers House is by Liddicoat & Goldhill. This is the second home built by married architects David Liddicoat and Sophie Goldhill for themselves, and this four-bedroom house is definitely worth a look, with its angles and dark cladding.
Finished in 2013 but on show for the first time, Kyverdale Road House by Prewett Bizley looks modernist with its smart white brick exterior and brown anodised window surrounds, softened by exposed timber joists inside.
WOOD BE NICE
Strong, visual timbers are a theme and feature beautifully again in Dangan Road in Redbridge by Tom Kaneko, where the owners wanted an extension that connected with the garden. Homely timber creates an instant feeling of organic warmth.
Similarly, Clapton House, in Clapton, Hackney, by Hugh Strange, takes a bomb-damaged house and completely rebuilds the back end, including a new roof, with another glorious display of exposed timber.
Homes don’t get much more fascinating than Henning Stummel’s Tin House in Hammersmith and Fulham, a compound of huts in an orange-red seamed metal finish set around a courtyard, that open up inside into one house — frankly, it’s pure genius.
On a smaller scale but equally considered is the Courtyard House in Newham. Built on a really tight pocket plot of an old wrecker’s yard for a small budget, this smart, black-clad home with striking oversize joists shoehorns in no fewer than four courtyards. Dallas Pierce Quintero are the architects.
Striking metal cladding is big at the moment — not only Tin House, but also Paul Archer’s Day House in Islington, a cute, bright, boxy little home replacing a Seventies mews house. Totally zinc-clad outside, it keeps the fresh open Seventies feel within.
Also in Islington, Jake Edgley uses different coloured zinc for a small development of homes at Godson Street, the fascinating roofline resembling the Cutty Sark in full sail.
Strong architectural detail can really create something special. In the Folds House in Haringey by Bureau de Change, the pleated roof/ceiling of an extension turns something ordinary into pure sculpture.
Meanwhile, in Tower Hamlets, an audacious insertion in the listed Fifties Denys Lasdun-designed block, Trevelyan House, feels as if a kitchen-in-a-box has landed inside a once-tired maisonette. Done on a budget by Bradley Van Der Straeten, it uses interesting materials such as bamboo ply and black MDF.
Over in Southwark, Jonathan Tuckey’s The Yard House encloses a courtyard in magical translucent polycarbonate — the re-minted material of the moment, showcased in Tom Dixon’s fabulous new Melt pendant lights.
Niche developments worth a look include Roger Zogolovitch and Solid Space’s Weston Street, still under construction in Bermondsey, which will have eight apartments when it is finished next year, featuring Zogolovitch’s trademark brilliant mezzanines and use of space.
GREEN AND PLEASANT
To see our city going greener before your eyes, visit one of two impressive roof gardens at office buildings done by Fletcher Priest Architects. We are not talking here about dingy toupés of moth-eaten sedum grass but smart landscaped gardens slap-bang in the middle of the City of London.
Nomura Bank HQ, Watermark Place (garden designed by Townshend Landscape Architects) and the Bevis Marks building are trailblazers for a future where one day London — from a helicopter — may look like a posh salad.
So be inspired, get online and get planning.