Blog: Open House Festival will help power the cultural, civic & economic reopening of London’s city centre

05 Jul 2021

Open City Director Phineas Harper explains why London Property Alliance (CPA + WPA) members should take part in the 2021 Open House Festival (4-12 September) – London’s largest celebration of buildings and architecture.

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From a handful of bijou buildings opening their doors for public tours one weekend in the early 1990s, Open House Festival has grown to become the largest and most inclusive celebration of special people, places and property in the world. With a quarter of a million visitors over two days in London alone and 46 sister festivals in New York, Santiago, Taipei, Lagos, Vienna and many other cities, Open House is now a global family of festivals dedicated to making cities everywhere more open, accessible and equitable.

Why do we do it? Why for three decades has Open City, the charity behind the festival, encouraged and supported thousands of property owners to figure out ways to welcome the public to buildings from Number 10 to the BT Tower? 

We believe that when Londoners of all backgrounds are given the opportunity to explore, experience and celebrate the remarkable spaces and places that make up their urban landscape, we create a happier, healthier city – one in which all citizens have the power and the opportunity to take part in meaningful discussions about its future.

As the vaccine rollout continues, it is critical Londoners put even more energy and creativity into finding safe and adventurous ways to open up the city than we did into closing it down. That’s why this year the 2021 Open House Festival will be a huge London-wide celebration of reopening, throwing open the doors of offices, theatres, pubs and palaces after a year stuck inside.

I’m enormously grateful to the London Property Alliance who are Champion Partners of our charity and of the 2021 Open House Festival. Thanks to their support, we’re able to offer members of the LPA and CPA discounted opportunities to be part of the festival, help recruiting volunteer stewards to manage visitors and a powerful marketing reach to tell people about tours and events taking place at or around their buildings.

The programme is taking shape but there is still time to include buildings and spaces in the 2021 Open House Festival line up. We’re expecting enormous interest after such long lockdowns so if you’re keen to bring people back into the city centre, show off new spaces, rebuild confidence in city-centre life and be part of London’s largest celebration of buildings and architecture, please get in touch about joining the festival.

Some building owners already in the mix for this year’s festival staging tours and openings include the London School of Economics who are opening up their extraordinary new Centre Building designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners; The Reform Club, the famous members club designed by Charles Barry in the heart of Westminster; The Grade 1-listed 1934 Isokon Building designed by Canadian engineer, Wells Coates; and the Design District, a remarkable neighbourhood of new studio spaces in Greenwich created by some of the best architects practicing today. I hope you will join the programme!

Thank you, together we can renew and reopen London, creating a more open, equitable and accessible city.

– Phineas Harper, Director of Open City

Find out more about Open House Festival 2021