Travel & Design Blog - BY YASMIN METZ-JOHNSON

Saturday, 27 September 2014

London Design Festival: Open House London 2014

Last weekend I spent the day wondering in and out of complete strangers houses, at the Open House London, an event that ran throughout the weekend of 20-21 September, where houses and buildings such as The Gherkin that are not usually open to the public give us the opportunity to see the work and concepts of today's leading architect's, designers and engineers. I found the day very informative as the designer of the specific project would usually be at the location, there to answer our questions and thoughts. I was initially surprised to learn that this scheme covers most boroughs of London. I only managed to go to 4, the borough of Islington, Camden, Westminster and City of London, there is only so much you can see in a day! Although Open House was active for the whole weekend I did begin to wish I had went the previous day (Saturday) as I browsed through the handbook showing the open days and times of every venue. Saturday appeared to be the most flexible day where everything was open. However saying that I didn't see all the venues that were open on the Sunday, so there was still as many to choose from.

(Sorry about the quality of my pics I took on my phone, you see only I would take out my digital cam without the batteries!)


The first house is located in the borough of Islington on Calabria Road, we had to take of our shoes outside before entering first floor of the Victorian house. The open space design brightened the long living area which followed into the lowered kitchen space via a short concrete staircase. After I walked into the conserved garden and additional eating space I was impressed by the use of exterior materials within the interior (the polished concrete kitchen floor). I also liked how the kitchen bar top level branched outdoors at the same height of the flowerbed. A feature my eyes were glued onto was the lighting installation above the centrepiece cubed counter within the kitchen space. This lighting instalment completely elevated the room as cut out installation with mirrors panelling all four sides as well as the ceiling automatically heightens the room, with the lighting reflecting through the round glass and mirrors creating a warmth within this kitchen and dining area.


The small house also in Islington on Richmond Avenue by german Architect Dyvik Kahlen, is the most confined space I have ever seen as the 14.1m squared house has with everything neatly compact and solo steps leading towards the bedroom which hovers above the kitchen space due to the vaulted ceiling. This was the only house I queued at as I guess many were intrigued to see the transformation of the former flower shop listed Grade II dwelling. Despite this house being self contained the architect has managed to make it spacious buy keeping many details minimal by including the essential living elements only by using pre-fabricated materials such as timber, leather, cedar and felt. I like how this architect managed to use levels to differentiate the different areas, kitchen, living area in such a small space.





A hard working house was one of the most interesting and most difficult houses to find as we walked past the front door of the town house positioned closely next to Grafton newsagents on Grafton Way. The Georgian town house had been renovated by Urban Projects Bureau who went on to create multiple stair cases that runs through living spaces creating a high-density dwelling. The use of natural lighting is put in place effectively in the ceilings of the bathroom spaces on the third floor I was surprise to learn it was a family house as I brushed past the lowered coat hanger and miniature shoes. The roof top terrace that has been created just over a year was my favourite elements of the rebranded house, I admired the fact that it is made invisible from the neighbours. A getaway and escape for the member of the house. The mixture of materials on the roof complimented each other creating a warm interior and outdoor vibe.




We ended the day at the London Design Festival landmark installation at Trafalgar Square, that featured 4 customised wooden house framed pavilions by four British designers/studios. Patternity, Raw-Edges, Studiolise and Jasper Morrision as they bring their own interpretations of the concept 'A Place Called Home' to reality. The landmarked homes are in association with Air bnb. I would encourage others to do Open House (and London Design Festival) in the future. It's a great way to get ideas for your own home or projects. I definitely recommend it to students in design, interior, architecture, engineers as expanding your knowledge on different aspects of your field from materials to spatial layout is never a bad thing. The other great thing is that many of these places listed on the guide are free!




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