Each September, up to 5,000 of the most amazing pieces of British architecture, engineering and heritage are opened up to the public.
The main event and the focus of this series is the London Open House architecture event, which offers the chance to visit some very special buildings, many of which are usually closed to the public. From the Bank of England to a top secret Second World War bunker used by Churchill; Gladstone's St Deiniols library in Wales to the cutting edge life-saving research laboratories at Queen Mary's university. It's a once in a year opportunity to go Behind Closed Doors.
Charlie Luxton is an architectural designer and broadcaster who has been creating and talking about environmental architecture for the past decade. In the past 15 years, he's worked on schemes including an eco-tourism project in Ethiopia, a house in Tel Aviv, and a number of London-based projects for Toh Shimizaki Architects.
These architectural shows are one of the family favourites. My wife tends to prefer the make-over shows whereas I tend to prefer the construction/architecture type shows and am not too concerned or, to be honest, that interested in the interior design frippery. To be given this show to review was more pleasure than chore. I knew from the opening few moments of the show I would enjoy this.
The show started with a bunker, designed to be Churchill's war office should Westminster ever be bombed hidden in the middle of a modern housing estate. I was hooked....
Manchester Town Hall, Portcullis House, Container City, London Town Hall (and those are the ones that jump immediately to mind)... a glimpse behind the scenes of some of the UK's most fascinating buildings, some of the history of the buildings, some trivia, design techniques and so on.
There is always a danger with this type of show, written and presented by an architect, that one could be talked down to in a condescending manner, or it could be too much jargon that one is left bewildered and the show somewhat incomprehensible. There is none of that. The presenter is enthusiastic, articulate and passionate. His infectious nature shines through and almost draws you into the show.
There are too many shows to enjoy in one sitting, but this makes you want to sit down and inwardly digest before moving onto the next one. I enjoyed being able to view the landmark buildings in the UK from the comfort of my own chair (in little old NZ).
If you love the architectural and home make-over shows that are currently 'en vogue' you are sure to enjoy this one. I was hooked, my wife enjoyed it too (though she didn't see as many of them as I did). It's worth every penny especially for a 2 DVD set.
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