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Open House Festival 2023: Croydon invites you to embrace its brutalist architecture

Courtesy of Glenn Foster (Handout)
Courtesy of Glenn Foster (Handout)

London’s Open House Festival isn’t just for architects. The two-week festival, which invites people inside some of London’s most exciting spaces, is for design fans, building enthusiasts, historical buffs, art lovers, city dwellers and anyone who has ever wanted to nose about in some of London’s most beautiful homes.

The festival extends to all corners of the city, including this year’s London Borough of Culture award winner, Croydon. This Is Croydon, the body organising Croydon’s cultural programme after its win, has said its collaboration with Open House Festival 2023 invites people to “discover the unique buildings, hidden histories, and unassuming beauty of Croydon.”

Starting from September 6, and running for the following 11 days, there will be a series of events taking place across the south London borough so that people can get better acquainted with its many fascinating buildings.

These include a walk around Post War Croydon, guided by retired architect Ian McInnes, a guided tour of some of Croydon’s churches including around the bell tower of the medieval church Croydon Minster, and a historic walking tour by East Croydon Community Organisation, with stops including a Victorian pub and an old electricity sub-station.

There’ll also be guided tours of Whitgift Almshouses, once a poor house and now a peaceful living space for retirees, and Croydon’s Edwardian Stanley Arts building. The Museum of Croydon will be opening up some of its art archives, there’ll be an open studio of Turf Projects (Whitgift Centre), and there will be a clay workshop at Bethlem Gallery.

Croydon’s South Norwood Library (Courtesy of Glenn Foster)
Croydon’s South Norwood Library (Courtesy of Glenn Foster)

The festival also includes a free talk with Croydon-born author and historian John Grindrod on Croydon’s urban heritage, which will take place at Croydon’s South Norwood Library. For young architects in the making, there will be a workshop on Croydon’s redevelopment which is set to be more fun than it sounds.

The late-Sixties-built St Bernard’s Houses and Richard Alwen’s 1854 Shirley Windmill are among the buildings that will also be open for exploration. Further details about This Is Croydon and Open House Festival’s many collaborative events, can be found here.

The idea of Open House is to celebrate the city’s varied neighbourhoods and architecture, by offering guided tours, talks, workshops and drop-ins. There is even a ballot to take a look inside some of London’s most exclusive buildings, including Number 10 Downing Street.

The 2023 festival highlights include a guided tour of West India Dock Impounding Station and architecture studio Tonkin Liu’s Farringdon studio, titled Sun Rain Rooms; an invitation to visit architect Liz Tatarintseva and Zach Fluker’s wooden home, Spruce House; a workshop at Bloomsbury Square’s Pushkin House and a drop-in to look around The Royal Society at Charing Cross.

Open House Festival 2023, September 6-17; programme.openhouse.org.uk