Landscape architects involved in London’s Open House weekend in September suggest it provided a valuable stage for generating public awareness about landscape

Open House London 2011
Open House London 2011

According to Open House, downloads of its iPhone app this year suggest that 2011 has been a “record year” for attendance. At its peak, the Open House London App, which was downloaded more than 7,500 times over 26 days, was the top Travel App in the UK.

Victoria Thornton, director of Open House, said: “The visitor numbers haven’t been counted yet but the popularity of the App suggests Open House London continues to grow and grow.”

Landscape architect Dominc Cole of Land Use Consultants led walks at the Horniman Museum & Gardens and Alexandra Palace. He said that more than 35 visitors turned up in all and that many thought it was a good idea to add landscapes to the Open House programme.

A tour of Alexandra Palace provided Cole with an opportunity to show how the HLF funded project worked and how the funds had been used across the 270 acre site. “Because it has been a couple of years since the work has settled in, it was good to be able to point out what had been done,” he said. “Several visitors remarked on how useful it was to have things explained – they would not otherwise have known that there had been work done by landscape architects.”

Susan Lowenthal, chair, LI London, remarked of one of the City walks: “It’s always enjoyable to see people beginning to understand how much is involved in putting together what they see.”

Chris Churchman of Churchman Landscape Architects, said that Open House provided a fantastic opportunity for landscape architects to engage with the public and to explain the significance of their role.

“Many are surprised at the extent of our involvement,” he said. “Fortunately, our Sammy Ofer scheme at the National Maritime Museum already has public appeal so it is easy to generate interest. It might be more difficult to promote the same enthusiasm for infrastructure-focused landscapes.”

Churchman said that landscape schemes are at something of a disadvantage in terms of pulling in the crowds, due to the fact that they are permanently accessible, while the more popular buildings featured in Open House are only open for this event. However, he said that despite these minor reservations, “the positive feedback definitely justified the effort”.


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