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Open House Festival 2023

This year the Open House Festival invited six different individuals and collectives to curate strands of the festival programme. These collections and events allowed the selected curators to share with others the buildings, places and themes they felt worthy of celebration and exploration. I was honoured to be asked to put together a collection in response to the City of London Corporation's Climate Action Strategy. Projects in the collection included 25 Cannon Street, 8 Bishopsgate, The London Museum, Citigen Power Plant and Chancery House.

The City of London is the financial and historical heart of London. Known as the Square Mile as it covers 1.12 square miles, this densely packed urban environment contains many of London’s best known landmarks including St Pauls, the Barbican, and the Guildhall.

Developer and asset manager Pembroke redeveloped 25 Cannon Street with sustainability at its core. Reimagined by architects Buckley Gray Yeoman, the public gardens by Tom Stuart-Smith feature a reflective pool designed in collaboration with Andrew Ewing.

In response to the climate emergency, the City of London Corporation has drawn up an ambitious Climate Action Strategy. This wide-reaching plan sets out how the City proposes to achieve net zero in its carbon emissions, build resilience to extreme weather as a result of climate change and champion sustainable growth. The Climate Action Strategy aims to achieve net zero by 2027 in how the City Corporation operates. By 2040 the City intends to be net zero across the Square Mile.

The Strategy considers every part of the life of the city, from underground drainage systems adapted to mitigate the risk of flooding to the city’s rooftops through the Sustainable Skyline Taskforce. A Biodiversity Action Plan recognising the importance of green space sits alongside pioneering planning guidance for Developers asking that they consider alternatives to demolition at the earliest stage of the planning process.

The latest contribution to the City of London’s Cluster of tall buildings, the newly completed 8 Bishopsgate by architects WilkinsonEyre is a 50-storey building designed as a series of stacked blocks. The building developed by Mitsubishi Real Estate and Stanhope includes high sustainability and low energy initiatives in its construction and operation. Photography by Dirk Lindner

Significant headway has been made in how the City is powered, with half of the City’s energy coming from a new Dorset solar farm in the first deal of its kind between a renewables producer and a governing authority.

The newly created London Museum will occupy market buildings in Smithfield – saving the historic General Market site for generations to come. A visualisation of the London Museum by Stanton Williams, Asif Khan and Julian Harrap.

The collection for the Open House Festival 2023 aimed to shine a light on what sustainability looks like in a city. The collection showed that in an urban environment as compact as the City of London, everything is connected and plays an equally important part in reaching net zero. For example, on offer is a visit to the Citigen working powerplant hidden behind a listed exterior where you can see the evolution of energy from fossil fuels to renewables. As a result of Citigen reaching net zero, the new London Museum - powered by the plant - will become a carbon neutral museum.

Hidden behind two Listed Building facades opposite Smithfield Market, and spread across eight floors below and above ground, E.ON's Citigen energy centre produces electricity, heat and cooling to buildings across the Square Mile.

Architects DMFK redeveloped the existing building for clients The Office Group, transforming the site into a new flexible workspace featuring beautifully designed spaces including a fitness studio, rooftop terrace, courtyards, and a café.


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