Open House was started in 1992 as a small, not-for-profit organisation to promote public awareness and appreciation of the capital's building design and architecture. The intention was to open up London's splendid buildings to the general public who don't otherwise have access. We saw this as a way of helping the wider community to become more knowledgeable, engage in dialogue and make informed judgements on architecture.
Buildings surround us in a city but the one thing we do not learn about in schools is the fabric of a place, such as the structure, framework or composition. The urban fabric of our community has such a strong impact on us on an everyday basis.
Core to our beliefs and values is having direct experience. You can't make an informed decision merely through abstract images, such as photos and illustrations. You need to be engaged with the space in question to know what the reality is.
Perceptions of the city have changed over the past 20 years. Public space, including landscape architecture, are now recognised as essential parts of a city. Open-City has taken the original initiative one step further by including public spaces and infrastructure. While the public may already have access to these areas, the point of Open-City is to draw attention to the value that public space offers to the community, broadening dialogue further.
Our main role is advocacy. We aim to help change perceptions, break down barriers and inspire people to demand high-quality places for current and future generations. Our pioneering programmes and initiatives are designed to meet the needs of decision-makers, young people and the wider community. And it is the success of our approach as an advocacy body that has positioned us as a progressive and influential authority among these groups.
The public domain cannot be created without the public's involvement. Usually, it's something 'done to the public', who usually have no choice but to hope that those who are responsible for creating and developing that space will do so in their best interests. So our mantra is that this must become part of our education system, and Open-City attempts to do just that.
The concept has become so successful it has spread to 30 cities worldwide. These are New York, Dublin, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Helsinki, Melbourne, Galway, Barcelona, Slovenia, Chicago, Rome, Lisbon, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Thessaloniki, Limerick, Buenos Aires, Gdansk-Sopot-Gdynia, Athens, Vienna,Vilnius, Monterrey, Cork, Belfast, Prague, Porto, with Madrid, Milan, Venice and Oslo joining soon. All cities are part of the Open House Worldwide Family, which strongly holds that the ethos behind the original event remains consistent. www.openhouseworldwide.org
Contact the Open House London team: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 383 2131