Open House London
Open House London is the world’s largest architecture festival, giving free public access to 800+ buildings, walks, talks and tours over one weekend in September each year. Open House London started in 1992 and 25 years later still carries the same ethos: Giving free access to London’s best buildings to inspire the public about the benefits of great design.
Lasdun’s Modernist Masterpiece in Regent’s Park
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is one of London’s most provocative buildings. Designed by British architect Sir Denys Lasdun (1914-2001), the building is set amongst the Regency terraces of Regent’s Park – one of only ten Grade I listed post-war buildings in England.
The Regent’s Park building was commissioned in 1959 and opened in 1964. It is the RCP’s fifth home since foundation in 1518. The RCP was given permission to demolish a bomb-damaged Nash villa on the site on the condition that the new building harmonised with its surroundings. Lasdun was appointed after making it clear that he would not create a classical building. In 1992 Lasdun was awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Trustees Medal in recognition of his work at the RCP, considered to be ‘the best architecture of its time anywhere in the world’. Lasdun’s creation places five hundred years of RCP tradition and collections at the heart of its startlingly modernist design.
2018 is a historic time to visit the RCP which celebrates its 500th anniversary this year since its founding by Royal Charter by Henry VIII in 1518. The exact anniversary date falling just one day later than Open House this year on Sunday 23 September.
The building's public spaces, exhibition, museum collections and many of its historical rooms will be open to the public throughout the day 10am - 5pm. Open access is free but booking a timed entry slot is recommended.
Guided tours of the building will run on the hour and last approximately 45 minutes covering the intertwined history and architecture of the RCP. Tour booking is essential as tours are expected to sell out in advance.
Tours will include the exterior and interiors of the building involving a fair amount of walking and several flights of stairs. Please ask at the registration desk if you would like the assistance of a folding museum stool during the tour.
Multimedia guides of the building are available from the registration desk for self-guided tours.
Energy in Architecture: the Royal College of Physicians and its homes
Free architecture talk, 3pm Wolfson Theatre
In its 500-year history the Royal College of Physicians has had a series of fine homes appropriate to its standing as a leading medical institution. Dr Barnabas Calder will talk about these buildings, designed by Webb, Hooke, Smirke and Lasdun, as examples of the development of London architecture over five centuries, arguing that the key to architecture, then as now, is to make the best use of limited energy supplies.
Dr Barnabas Calder is Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Liverpool. He is a specialist on Denys Lasdun's architecture, and is writing a book on the long relationship between architecture and energy.
The exhibition 'This vexed question: 500 years of women in medicine' will also be open to Open House visitors. The newly opened display explores the histories of well-known pioneers and uncovers previously hidden medical women. Featuring RCP President Jane Dacre's newly-commissioned portrait alongside Elizabeth Garrett's qualifying certificate, and 17th century handwritten recipe books next to 20th century oral histories, visitors will be able to find out more about individual women doctors and the attitudes towards them over the 500 years of the RCP’s existence.
The Royal College of Physicians' garden contains 1000 species of plants all with links to medicine. The myriad stories they tell come from diverse cultures, different countries and from every age in recorded history. The beautifully designed garden is a wonderfully calm space in the centre of London. Its unique and bespoke collections of plants offer living examples of the history of medicine from the era of the pyramids of Egypt to today’s life-saving prescription drugs. The medicinal garden will be open throughout the day to Open House visitors with continous tours by RCP garden fellows.
Continuous garden tours will run throughout the day 10am - 5pm led by RCP Garden fellows. No booking required - just join a tour!
Tea, coffee, juice and a selection of sandwiches and cakes will be available for visitors to purchase on the Lower Ground floor.
The RCP is fully wheelchair accessible. Lifts and ramps are available in the building and medicinal garden. There is also wheelchair access to the Wolfson lecture theatre. There is a glass lift in the main foyer, please ask reception staff for assistance. There is seating available on all floors of the building and in the garden.
Baby changing facilities
Assistance dogs are welcome
If you have any questions about accessibility, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that bag searches may be in operation on the day.
Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?
No, but it will help make your registration quicker if you have a printed ticket.
What can I bring into the event?
Use of cameras without flash are permitted. Tripods are not permitted. Large bags and suitcases should be stored in the cloakroom.
Is it ok if the name on my ticket or registration doesn't match the person who attends?
Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?
No, but children should be accompanied by an adult.
What are my transport/parking options for getting to and from the event?
Closest tube stations are Great Portland Street and Regents Park. We are unable to accommodate requests for parking. The roads around Regents Park operate a permit system at the weekend.
For more information, please visit the Open House London website.