Apex takes part in Open House London for the first time
Billed as ‘Free entry to London’s best buildings’, we were delighted when the prestigious Open House London accepted one of our recent projects as part of their 2019 architectural trail.
What is Open House London?
Started in 1992, 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 over a quarter of a million people take part in the event.
Buildings are shared with the public through a programme and on the website so that people can explore areas and buildings of interest to them and find out more about points of architectural beauty and interest in the different London boroughs. Interestingly, there are often architects on hand in the buildings to provide context and discuss the projects with interested parties.
This year we had the perfect project – a new build in Blackheath - to submit for consideration – and to our excitement it was accepted as part of the trail.
It was a tiring weekend, but we appreciated the opportunity to be involved.
Here, one of the Apex team, Sue, talks about this extraordinary house and her experiences of the weekend:
“As a member of the Apex Architecture team it was a great pleasure to be able to invite visitors to Amoreira, Blackheath, for the weekend of 21st /22nd September for Open House in London. The house was accepted as a new building to be on view at this prestigious event. Located in the midst of a conservation area this home was built on the site of the garden of a large Victorian house.
The building was only just ready. Builders, carpenters and landscapers were working late into Friday evening to bring the house and garden to a stage where we could open. It was an important building to all these wonderful people and they went above and beyond to ensure our inclusion in the architectural trail. These very workers came back to the house over the weekend showing how proud and involved they felt.
The whole experience was extraordinary and across the weekend we had over five hundred and fifty visitors. The interest in the building was amazing. It was very emotional seeing the building for the first time and every visitor had a response of their own. It is very brave to invite comment on a building that has had so much time, energy and belief invested in it.
The planners agreed to the contemporary design visualised on the CGI and which now adds a bit of drama and surprise to this street. A building which is flanked and faced by traditional Victorian houses of some grandeur. It is a brave and yet beautifully discreet dwelling. As you approach there is drama and delight at the way in which the house sits on its site.
The master stroke is the cladding which enhances the impact of the house and changes according to the way you approach. The British cedar is elevated to a stylish screen which sympathetically wraps around the house and roots it. Inside the views are framed and the screen provides some privacy and interest to the glorious light which floods the house.
The cedar is grown in this country so is totally sustainable. When it is growing it improves the air. It also represents good value for money when there are budgetary concerns.
The garden contained an ancient mulberry tree (hence the name Amoreira which is Portuguese for Mulberry) which proved to be contentious for some in the locality. Ultimately the ground was found to be contaminated and the mulberry trees to be diseased. The ground had to be cleared and at some depth removed. New mulberry trees are on site and will be planted at the front of the building so everyone can enjoy them.
There is also a roof which is a green biodiverse area following Lewisham council guidelines. This can be enjoyed from the front bedroom window.
The house has a very calm and peaceful feel to it and there are lots of places to be. Space is generously used. The house came alive when lots of small children arrived and ran around with balloons giving the house a party atmosphere. It is a perfect house for parties.
On the Sunday of the Open House weekend I welcomed everyone and became the volunteer. I greeted visitors and gave a few instructions: please take your shoes off; you can go anywhere and the architects are inside to answer any questions. As one visitor left she thanked us for opening the house – she described it as inspiring. Many of the visitors were local residents who had watched the building go up and they were taking the only opportunity to have a closer look. They were generally very positive about what they saw.”
Find out more about Amoreira.
If you are considering a new build or renovation project in the Blackheath area, please get in touch for an informal consultation about how our team of Greenwich-based London architects might be able to help.