Open House and The Recovery: Our Plan



If London had never staged the Open House festival before, this would be the perfect year to start!

In September the Open House weekend will take place, more ambitious and varied than ever before reconnecting Londoners with a city they’ve been locked out of for months while helping to rebuild local economies, wellbeing and public life.

Here’s our plan to do it.


Open House and the Recovery

Recovering from the impact of Covid-19 will be a profound challenge for all civil society. Business, citizens, cultural organisations and public authorities all have important roles. With 365,000 visits in a single weekend, Open House is the largest festival of architecture and the urban landscape in the world and has a big part to play this year in supporting London’s recovery effort. The festival is all about people getting out into their city, exploring its remarkable mix of unique buildings and public spaces both close to home and all across town. This year, Open House will be a festival of rediscovering the richness of the city after months stuck inside — a jump-start for local economics and celebration of the buildings, parks and places that we’ve all been missing.


Health and Wellbeing

The lockdown has been essential for fighting the virus, but being cooped up for so long has had a knock-on impact on the health and wellbeing of many Londoners. Open House 2020 will help rebuild a healthy city with a special programme built around safe ways to explore the streets of London on foot and bike with sociable, active ways to participate in the festival from home too.


Boosting Local Economies

The economic impact of Covid-19 on London will be huge. It is essential for boroughs and businesses to rebuild local economies. Open House is a free festival but will nonetheless generate a significant amount of economic activity in September helping to support local businesses across the city get back on their feet. Last year Open House visitors spent an average of £24 each during their visit to the festival, creating a total of £6 million of spending largely in small shops and cafes near Open House sites. 


Supporting boroughs and the built environment

Construction in London alone is a £17 billion economy which has been hit hard by the virus. Open House 2020 will celebrate the work of London’s local authorities and construction sector in shaping and cultivating the city. From shining a light on new community-led developments to showcasing the most ambitious infrastructure projects and regeneration projects, the festival will support and promote those who are improving the city for everyone. 


Public Space and Landscape

Throughout the pandemic, landscapes from the simplest flower bed to the grandest civic park, and the people who make and maintain them, have been crucial allies in the fight to keep Londoners healthy and active. Public space and urban landscapes will be a huge part of what we will celebrate in the next Open House festival with activities in parks and gardens as well as architecture. Not all key workers wear scrubs — some push wheelbarrows!

Plans for Open House 2020



Social Distancing

It is likely controlled public gatherings will return by the end of summer with social-distancing measures in place for some time longer. The Open House festival will therefore take place, more buoyant and vigorous than ever, bursting open the doors of London in celebration. Careful social distancing management plans will be developed for each site to ensure the festival runs smoothly and safely while new digital projects, physical publications and a raft of other initiatives will bring new dimensions to the festival. For Londoners who cannot get out into the city this autumn, we will make the festival more inclusive than ever and bring the city to them, ensuring Open House offers something for everyone no matter what the virus throws at us.

Each individual Open House building will have detailed social distancing guidelines which will be published on the Open House website and app so that visitors are well aware of the restrictions in place for physical visits.


Model London

Many parents are now stuck at home, trying to home educate their children alongside juggling jobs. Even when schools reopen, it is likely we’ll all be spending far more time at home looking for activities that can be accessed online or come in the post. In response to this situation, Open House is launching a series of activity packs containing printed card models of London’s best architecture for families to make at home. Each pack will include a mini magazine about the building’s history, architecture and context with a fold-and-make model so Londoners can create their own mini skyline.


Open House Book — A Celebration of London

Every year, Open House has produced a book alongside the festival. This year, rather than a straightforward listing of which buildings are open for the weekend, we’re expanding the editorial content of the Open House book, commissioning new essays, features and interviews exploring all 33 of London’s boroughs. What in the past was just a guide to the festival, will now be a substantial publication in its own right — a unique celebration of the urban landscape of London in the year 2020.


Micro Documentaries

As part of the digital programme for Open House 2020, we are commissioning a new series of micro documentaries presented by the best architectural broadcasters and storytellers. In each documentary, audiences will be taken on a short tour of a building explaining its architecture and construction. Shot over the summer months, these documentaries will be launched on Open House weekend in an online film festival and lasting archive of films about London’s buildings accessible to people around the whole world. 


Open House Podcast - A new free radio show about the future of London

This new podcast will explore London’s past, present and future featuring perspectives and stories about the city, grappling with the challenges it faces during and after Covid-19. The show will be hosted by a roster of rising stars in architectural criticism, planning and public engagement. It will feature discussions with leading experts from across architecture and design in conversation with policymakers, scientists, economists, artists, activists and citizens. It will create a cultural platform to explore the most salient issues facing our city today and celebrate the people, companies and stories behind London’s built environment.


Open House Itineraries

We are developed curated Open House itineraries as year-round walking and cycling routes, organised around key themes. Available through the Open House app and website, these will give everybody the opportunity to visit and learn about architecture in London for anyone to take part in, solo or as a group.

Sponsor Open House 2020

We are seeking ambitious sponsors to support Open House 2020. If you would like to work with us, write to for more information about supporting the UK's largest festival of the urban landscape.