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Portcullis and Danish Embassy to star in 'Open House' first

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Several surprise turn-ups are making their debut at next month's 'London Open House' weekend, the annual event when 550 buildings of architectural merit will open their doors to the public.

Michael Hopkins and Partners' Portcullis House, which will be open to the public for the first time, is expected to attract significant numbers of visitors.

And the Royal Danish Embassy in London's Sloane Street, designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1977, will be the only embassy ever to have participated in the event.

But Lord Rogers' home in Chelsea will not be open to all and sundry this year - only to those aged between eight and 11 who have signed up to the 'architective' scheme, which encourages children to match architectural features with those found in an official booklet.

Victoria Thornton, director of the charity which organises the weekend, stressed that the aim of the event was architectural education rather than a heritage exercise. 'It's basically a massive architecture exhibition.We try to show a range of architecture for people to compare and contrast. It is strictly about architecture and in actual fact the word 'heritage' is banned in this office, ' she said.

Other buildings making their debut include a new private house designed by Sarah Featherstone of Hudson Featherstone, and 89 Genesta Road, Berthold Lubetkin's first British residential scheme, designed in 1934. Highgate New Town Estate, a 1970s project, will also be on show - a complex design by Peter Tabori of Camden council's architects department, who studied with Ern÷ Goldfinger. The estate is a favourite of Thornton: 'As with all council blocks, it's not pretty. But it illustrates Modernist thinking about public housing.'

The BBC will also be offering public access to Television Centre in Wood Lane. Opened in 1960, the plan of the building is based on a question mark, doodled by architect Graham Dawbarn as he pondered how to go about designing the world's first purpose-built TV broadcasting complex.

'London Open House' will run from 22-23 September. For details log on to www. londonopen house. org or tel 09001 600 061 (calls will be charged at 60p per minute).

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