Open House goes global

Barcelona is the latest city to showcase its architecture to the public after becoming part of the hugely successful annual Open House Weekend.


The Open House Weekend, which was launched by Open-City 18 years ago with Open House London, gives people access to the most innovative, inspiring and engaging examples of a city’s architecture, highlighting the value of good design in creating and sustaining a vibrant city.


The Open House Weekend now takes place in six cities worldwide and its status as a cultural and educational event continues to grow internationally. Plans are being developed to add further high profile cities including Rome and Chicago to the existing locations.


To capture the international proliferation of Open House Weekends, a new website launched on September 15, 2010. This provides the latest news from international cities that are already part of the Open House Family and advice on how other cities can benefit from the initiative.


Victoria Thornton, Founding Director of Open-City, the organization behind Open House London, said: “Few cities embrace architecture in such a vibrant, eclectic and imaginative way as Barcelona so we are delighted the city has adopted the Open House model. More and more representatives from other cities are approaching us with aspirations to replicate the concept in order to raise debate and encourage a deeper understanding of urban design and public space. The website will act as a hub for host cities and participants to share their experiences.”


Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, commented: “I’m delighted that Open House is going global, showing that architecturally London can hold its own with other great cities around the world. From historic churches to gleaming spires and the best in sustainable living, this fine showcase of creativity is a terrific opportunity to explore our city’s great history in brick, in wood, in glass and in steel and it comes as no surprise that it is now receiving international attention.”


And the Director of Open House Barcelona, Janice Moret, said: “People in Barcelona are very proud of the city and its architecture. However, a true understanding of the concept of space and the importance of architecture is difficult to grasp for people outside the discipline. Open House Barcelona will help to bring architecture closer to all kinds of people so they will really understand how design influences everyday life.”


Open House London was founded in 1992 by Victoria Thornton, with the aim of fostering a better understanding of architecture and the built environment outside the profession. Thornton set out to make London’s buildings accessible to all, with the mantra that direct experience is the most effective way to learn about, appreciate and make informed judgements about the built environment.


By 1994, 200 contemporary and historic buildings across London were featured in the event. Access to these buildings is always free and this has remained core to the ethos of the event. Open House London now sees a variety of activities, talks, tours and debates as well as over 700 buildings open to the public each September with over 350,000 building visits, and the concept is being replicated across Europe, the United States and the Middle East.


The concept spread when an Open House London architect volunteer, Scott Lauer (at the time practicing at Foster & Partners) was inspired by his experiences, and then founded Open House New York in 2001, which now attracts over 185,000 participants.


Open House Dublin launched in 2005, followed by Open House Tel Aviv in 2007, Galway in 2009 and now Barcelona. Open-City is in discussion with a number of other cities that are set to launch their own Open House in the near future, including Chicago, Rome and L’Aquila.


The launch of the website coincides with the official launch reception of Open House London 2010, which this year, sees the BT Tower participating for the first time in the history of the event. To order a guide, please visit


Open House Barcelona takes place this fall from October 16-17, 2010.