Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Day Out in London

Yesterday I went to London.  I was going to the theatre but I'd also discovered it was Open House London, which is part of Open City, where buildings not normally open to the public open their doors to visitors.  The first one I tried to visit was 201 Bishopsgate.

It's 2 towers, joined by some amazing diagonal stainless steel work with a roof garden.  Sadly there were about 100 people in front of me and they were only letting 20 people in every 1/2 hour and I didn't have that much time (see the people abseiling on the left tower?).

So I went to 10 New Burlington Street instead; a new build behind the facade of both Regent Street and New Burlington Street.  I was lucky enough to join a tour of 10 people led by one of the architects.  No photography was allowed so I've used the images from this website (which also explains more of the detail if you're interested).

Behind the facades (which were either kept in place and propped up during the build, or taken down brick by brick, stored and rebuilt to level the floors up)

is this - 

not what you'd expect to be there at all!

Inside they'd used limited materials - the ceilings are polished plaster and the walls white oak.

There is a large central atrium to bring in light and the handmade porcelain tiles were the only colour.

We went into the listed vaults underneath, which were originally wine cellars and had been sensitively restored with lime mortar and now store bike racks for the people who work there.

It is an absolutely stunning building,  and from Regents Street the only thing you see is this gate - designed to represent the clockmakers who used to be on the site in the past.

After leaving here, a spot of lunch, and a sense of direction failure that had me walking the wrong way up Charing Cross Road for quite a while, I went here.

Kenneth Branagh was fantastic, as were all of the cast.  His daughter was played by Sophie McShera who is known to many of us as Daisy from Downton Abbey.

It's on for another few weeks and it's worth a visit if you're in London.



Celia said...

Always fascinating to find things behind the scenes. Shame you couldn't take photos but I guess they have things to protect.

Frances said...

Su, thank you so much for this reporting on your London visit.

The 10 New Burlington Street facade description ties in with another blog post I've recently read by the Gentle Author, who writes the Spitalfields Life blog. He is going to be doing a photo lecture about all sort of these "saved" London facades. I would definitely want to go to the lecture if I were to be in London, as I have sort of mixed feelings about the concept. We see some of the same thing around here.

All very interesting.

I envy your being able to see The Entertainer! xo

Gina said...

How amazing to have that modern building behind the old facade... And so good they preserved them. I think I would like to see that play too.