Calling all London families! Cancel your plans, pack the sun screen and prepare your kids for a fantastic free weekend of creative fun – Open House Families is coming! On 9thand 10th June we’ll see the first London-wide family festival dedicated to architecture.
Powered by Open City, a charity dedicated to architectural education for all, this weekend will see some of the capital’s most famous buildings, including the Gherkin and the Shard, open up their usually private doors exclusively for families. Activities in the festival are suitable for children aged 0-13 and the best thing is everything is totally free to attend!
The festival is aimed at exciting and inspiring the next generation of Londoners about the great buildings and places in our city. Many of the activities have been designed by real architects and engineers from a range of practices – you can expect high quality, innovative activities that will give kids a creative insight into how we design and shape our built environment!
It’s all about the Hubs
Right, first thing’s first, pick your area. There are four main hubs of activity to choose from – St Mary Axe (the Gherkin), Gasholder Park, Here East and locations across Canary Wharf. I’d recommend identifying a hub location that suits you best and spending your day trying out everything that’s going on locally. There’s enough happening in every area to keep kids entertained all day, along with plenty of places to eat and relax between stops. If you’re super keen you can always try another hub the next day. If it was me, my first choice would probably be 30 St Mary Axe. Activities taking place inside and outside London’s most iconic skyscraper include a race to build the tallest Lego tower, a pop-up city scape and Vege City where you can design your own building inspired by fruit or vegetables!
The City of London is Awesome
Choosing this hub also means you’re slap-bang in the middle of the City of London so have a huge variety of other venues to discover nearby. Introduce kids to 2000 years of architectural history on one of The City Centre’s walking tours (run by yours truly) or enjoy pottering between activities all day long. For me this day would have to include grossing out at the Museum of London’s Fatberg display, re-building Roman London at the Guildhall Art Gallery and going on a self-guided trail of the brutalist Barbican, the City’s most famous post-war estate and arts centre.
Meet the Professionals
One of the best things about this festival is that loads of architects and engineers have volunteered to run activities so children get to benefit from their expertise. There are professionally run workshops in every hub from Al Dente, a pasta based structural engineering workshop run by collective Scale Rule in Canary Wharf to a ping-pong engineering obstacle challenge at Gasholder Park with Lipton Plant Architects.
And Finally…Mix it Up!
From storytelling at Canary Wharf to 3D map-making at the Sir John Soane Museum this really is an incredibly diverse programme that the whole family can get involved in. The full programme of events is now available online so you can plan your own tailor made weekend taking in the sites, completing creative challenges and learning more about London’s built environment as you go along, 100% quality family time guaranteed!
Best of luck with your exploring!