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Ah, the joys of living in a global city: the architecture, the theatres, the restaurants and exhibitions. Strange how hard it can seem to actually get out and see them, isn’t it?
It’s easy to take the culture surrounding us for granted - and of course it can be fiendishly expensive to seize the day - but this weekend, if you’ve got some spare time, make the most of what the capital has to offer.
Two festivals celebrating London as a centre of cutting-edge design and architecture will provide plenty of entertainment, and lots of it is completely free. What are you waiting for?
Open House London
September 20-21 (free)
Now in its 22nd year, Open House was created to build awareness of and appreciation for London’s rich urban fabric. Over the course of the weekend a wide range of buildings, from landmarks like the Gherkin to intriguing private houses, throw their doors open to the public.
There are more than 800 building visits and events on offer, with overarching themes helping us question they way we live and plan our built environment. ‘Design for Living’ asks what makes a house a ‘home’ and looks at how we can meet the needs of a growing population. ‘How the City Works’ examines the pressure on infrastructure from climate change and population growth.
Whether you’re a dedicated architecture buff or just curious, it’s a great opportunity to see some of London’s hidden gems, many of which are usually closed to the public. It’s up to you whether you dedicate yourself to following a theme, explore your local stomping ground or just nip into one building that catches your eye.
The full programme is available at
London Design Festival
Until September 21
The London Design Festival is now underway and includes some 300 events across town, many of which are free for you to drop into.
In Trafalgar Square, public art installation A Place Called Home questions how we differentiate a house from a home (a popular theme this weekend, apparently!) and many design shops across the city are hosting exhibitions and other activities.
The V&A’s tunnel entrance is covered in bold geometric shapes as the result of a collaboration with a London print and design studio and a tile manufacturer, while the Raphael Gallery has been transformed by designers and creatives from BMW and there’s a Zaha Hadid feature in the John Madejski Garden (free, www.vam.ac.uk)
If you have a passion for innovative design and interiors and want to preview the trends that’ll be filtering down to us all over the next year or so, there are a number big shows to visit as well.
In Earls Court, major trade show 100% Design opens its doors to the public on Saturday (£15, no children allowed, www.100percentdesign.co.uk). Meanwhile, in Shoreditch, Tent London highlights the best in contemporary design and is open to the public September 18-21 (£10, children allowed and under-fives go free, www.tentlondon.co.uk).
Download a full schedule at www.londondesignfestival.com