London Open House 2011
Written by Jaillan Yehia
London Open House never ceases to amaze and delight me, and after each London Open House weekend in the capital I find out a few more hidden facts and details about London, while seeing a few more architectural gems in my home town.
Here are the highlights of my London Open House Weekend 2011:
Saturday was spent seeing the beautiful Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green, a refurbished and very symptahetically converted Town Hall, with some charming artistic details.
The hotel is housed in a truly splendid Grade II listed building, originally Bethnal Green Town Hall, and has been converted with an unusually deliate hand into a refined and elegant design hotel with a contemporary feel and understated artistic flair.
The hotel is perhaps more well-known for being home to Viajante the avant-garde, menu-less, Blumenthalesque restuarant, where your 6, 9 or 12 courses of possibly sublime, possibly ridiculous dishes are served to you by a tweezer-wielding Portuguese chef: Nuno Mendes.
However, I didn’t get to sample the wares, as I had to hot foot it over to Docklands for a boat trip, so it was a snatched (and surprisingly tasty) toasted foccacia from Brera for my lunch.
The swift lunch was followed by a boat tour of Royal Victoria Dock, a part of London I seldom visit and one which is undergoing some much needed investement and regeneration to coincide with London 2012.
Here the local community have just begun giving tours of the River area, which is brimming with well-concealed hisroical details – The Royal Victoria Dock was the first dock built expressly for steam ships and from the water you can see the imposing Grade II listed Spillers Millennium Mills, a derelict building which attracts art students hoping to capture urban decay on a grand scale.
Nearby is also the construction site for the new Siemens Sustainability Pavilion, a newly renovated ship, the SS Robin and the beginnings of a cable car, along with a 21 Century pleasure gardens and floating lido which hopes to attract new interest and investement to the area.
Sunday was spent in Parliamant Square and Victoria for a fascinating tour of the UK Supreme Court.
This was followed by a pub lunch to steel myself for a walking tour of Victoria, hearing about the area’s secrets, its past, present and future.
You can drop in any time you like, without booking and see the building and what goes on inside for yourself- for example recently the court ruled on a copyright issue regarding the film Star Wars! Visit the website at www.supremecourt.gov.uk to find out which cases are being heard, and for general information.
The Victoria Walk taught me some fascinating facts about an area that I didn’t know much about – for example I learned that the original building occupying the site of Westminster Cathedral was actually a vast prison.
Walks are available all year round see the following websites for details:
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