This weekend was the annual Open House London event, where offices, houses, building sites and historic landmarks across London open free to the public. Ola works in the construction industry, and I often hear about how the ventilation systems in large office blocks are built (or some other similar information is imparted), so I thought it would be interesting for both of us to take a look at some of the buildings in London… and there might be some photo opportunities as well…
Although we had grand plans, on Saturday we were both too tired to go into town, so we didn’t make a start on the 500 buildings on offer until yesterday. Naturally, this limited the scope of what we could achieve – both in terms of the time available, and what was open (most of those in the City were only open on Saturday).
We started off by walking from London Bridge to Weston Williamson Architects on the corner of Tanner Street.
(click through the thumbnails to see the full versions on Flickr)
Weston Williamson were the architects who created London Bridge Jubilee line station, and they seem to be involved in a number of current underground and railway projects (Woolwich Arsenal DLR; various rail terminals in the Far East). Their offices are a glass building on five floors, with a roof terrace. One floor was open for viewing, with plans and videos on display, but the rest was closed apart from the terrace.
When we got to the roof, it turned out that they were within sight of Tower Bridge. I’d never walked around the Bermondsey area before, so I had no idea of the geography of that part of London. It was also remarkable to see how many other offices in the area also had roof terraces.
Next, I’d intended for us to go and see the Victorian Operating Theatre behind London Bridge Station, and we’d also passed the wooden eco-homes at Carmarthen Place on the way to Tanner Street; but we ended up at City Hall instead.
The Thames Festival was in full swing. A gospel choir was singing outside, and the riverside was bustling with stalls.
City Hall was designed by Norman Foster, and stands on the south side of the Thames opposite the Tower of London. Ola declared the domed / stepped glass building to be ugly, but we decided to see inside anyway. After security checks, we were allowed up to the 9th floor (the viewing gallery) in the lift. Some great views along the Thames, with views past Tower Bridge to Canary Wharf eastwards, and some fine views of the Tower of London and the City to the north.
Just as we were about to finish on the roof, I discovered that I’d had my camera set for ISO 400 for most of the day. Although I got some pretty good shots, they are fairly noisy, particularly in the skies. As I go through processing the RAW files, I’m attempting to smooth out the noise in The Gimp. Worth noting at this point that the noise reduction features in RawShooter Premium actually work, but the NR slider in Adobe Lightroom appears to be there just for amusement value, since I can see no appreciable change in my pictures when I use it. Hopefully this will be improved before the final release. Anyway, processing has been slow so far, so expect a few more images to go into the Flickr set over time.
We came back down the steps inside the building. The core of the building has a coiled ramp / steps which curl around, with offices on the outside facing onto the river. It is pretty impressive, although neither of us were sure about the yellow decor of the offices themselves!
The Assembly Chamber is interesting – members sit in a circle around a table, and there is space for an audience. Very light. Might be interesting to attend during business hours.
After City Hall, we started to walk along the river back towards London Bridge, going through Hays Galleria on the way – I didn’t know this small shopping arcade was there, despite working in the vicinity for most of an 18-month period a couple of years ago.
That, as it turned out, was it… we struggled to find many other places that we were interested in around the immediate area, so headed to Oxford Street for coffee. I found another interesting shot when we got there – I might try a B&W conversion at some point, since this seems to have the right texture qualities for it to work.
Diamond Geezer has blogged his experiences here and here – he saw more than we did! Metroblogging London has coverage, too.
Next year, I hope that we’ll make more of the Open House weekend. This was pretty interesting nonetheless.
Technorati: open+house, london, architecture, walking, photography, lightroom