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London children to be part of biggest-ever Open House

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London Open House has teamed up with Imagination to challenge schoolchildren to become 'architectives'. They will get special 'passports' stamped on visiting selected buildings opening up as part of the capital's biggest ever Open House event on 19-20 September.

Imagination has sponsored the event, spending 'thousands' on printing up 3000 'brightly coloured and kiddified' passports (available free by writing to London Open House, PO Box 6984, London N6 6PY). Children who visit the buildings taking part - Nightingale House, Foster and Partners' office, the Burton House, Hackney Empire Theatre, the Ismaili Centre, the Calthorpe Project and the India Office & Foreign Office - will be asked questions such as 'what sort of materials are used in this building?' and 'would you like to work here?' after which their passports will be 'stamped' - proof that they are indeed 'architectives'. A separate section asks them to design what they think should be the new Mayor of London's residence. The winning design, judged by 'a distinguished panel of architects' will be produced as a postcard and sent to all the potential candidates for the Mayor of London.

London Open House director Victoria Thornton said the aim is to get the packs (also available during the weekend from the Imagination Building at 25 Store Street, London WC1 or from the Architectural Association) into 2000 classrooms as an educational tool.

Open House is gearing up, with buildings such as Lloyds, St Pancras Station Hotel and the Bank of England taking part, although Ralph Erskine's Ark building in Hammersmith is fully booked, as is a tour to the viewing platform at the Millennium Dome. William Kent House in St James' and Whitby Bird's offices are stop-press entries to the list. Other highlights include Colin St John Wilson and Partners' British Library, Sir Denys Lasdun's Royal College of Physicians, and James Stirling and Michael Wilford's Number 1 Poultry. Embarassingly, however, the riba's head office is only opening on the Saturday, 10.00-17.00, not for the whole weekend, as is printed in the programme.

Thornton hopes that 500,000 people might visit the 500 buildings taking part this year, compared to the 250,000 who went to the 400 on the list last year. 'It's the best architectural exhibition there is,' she said.

London Open House is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Service Point, bbc, glr, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Ian Ritchie Architects, the aa, dcms, bdp and the Design Council.

Further details are available by phoning the hotline (39p per minute cheap rate, 49p per minute at other times: 0891 600 061, or by visiting the London Open House internet site at http://www.londonopenhouse. demon.co.uk

Scotland's Doors Open Days and the wider Heritage Open Days in the rest of England takes place on 12-13 September. A full county-by-county listing is available on www.civictrust.org.uk

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