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Programmes like Open House promote architecture and the profession

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It’s amazing that Open House London has people queuing up for architecture, writes Christine Murray

Open House London is a beautiful idea in an age of virtual space; an invitation to connect in real life and real time, and experience architecture. We tend to walk around looking at our iPhones, but this weekend, thousands will down tools and open their eyes to the city and its buildings.

Whether or not we are paying attention, architecture and the built environment still have a profound impact on our lives. Victoria Thornton, founding director of Open House London, has often said, ‘We think it is strange that architecture, something we all experience every day, is the very thing we never learn or talk about.’

There is a growing body of research about how design affects us, for better or worse. It is required reading for architects who need to defend the value of their work.

The RIBA’s white paper, Good design - it all adds up is a good primer. It describes how hospital patients with access to natural daylight and external spaces require less medication and recover faster; in work spaces, it shows how air quality, acoustics and lighting can make for a more productive workforce; and after students moved into Wilkinson Eyre’s Bristol Brunel Academy, there was a 50 per cent fall in vandalism.

Danny Dorling’s book Fair Play is another worthy weapon, this time against Gove-ism, as it shows a correlation between increased spending on school building during the Labour years and improved GCSE results, as well as a higher university intake from poorer areas. The Design Council is also accumulating a growing body of research that shows the value of good design in sectors such as healthcare.

Architects have made a significant contribution to Open House, not only through their work, but also by volunteering their time to give talks and tours.

They have been rewarded with the opportunity to meet potential clients and promote their work in a friendly setting.

Over 750 buildings and sites across London will open their doors this Saturday and Sunday - surely the largest architecture exhibition ever staged. The innovative yet simple idea of inviting people to freely explore buildings will have people queuing around the block to see architecture - something exhibitions rarely, if ever, manage.

100% Design - AJ presents: Architects’ Question Time

This weekend, I’ll be hosting an Architects’ Question Time at 100% Design. We’re inviting the public to bring questions about extending, renovating or increasing the value of their home or office to be answered by Joe Morris of Duggan Morris, Gabrielle Omar of Lolli & Square and David Howarth of DRDH architects.

22 September, 12:45 - 1:30pm, 100% Design, Earl’s Court


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Of course Open House is great for London, but you should get out more; last weekend's Open Doors in Glasgow was huge and hugely popular, from what I saw, and the previous weekend's Heritage Open Days in Brighton similarly - and for all I know there are other places in Britain not in London too.
    (And do tell Rory that Helensburgh was looking fantastic on Sunday)

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