The curious — or just plain nosey — will be able to take a sneak peak into some of the most interesting buildings in the borough this weekend, whether they are historic churches, halls, cinemas or schools.

Walking tours will also take-in the Art Deco heritage of Wood Green, the development of Muswell Hill from a rural enclave to Edwardian housing and the Tower Gardens Garden Suburb.

Architect Andy Down, whose home at 30 Cholmeley Crescent, Highgate, will be one of those opening to the public, says: “Architecture is very vibrant and innovative at present. Planners have relaxed their views over the past 20 years and are allowing more modern buildings to be built.

“At the same time, it’s the constraints in a city like London that make the buildings interesting. People are always trying to convert tight plots and end up with a lot of interesting methods of dealing with them.”

Mr Down and his wife Aurore, also an architect, bought their house when it was a structurally unsound yet otherwise typical 1930s semi. After 18 months of building work, they had turned it into a sleek, white, modernist home, more than doubling its floorspace in the process.

Mr Down adds: “We moved here from a typical Victorian terrace house in Tufnell Park and wanted a wider space, facing the garden. We’ve got three boys, so we definitely wanted somewhere with lots of space. Fortunately, although the house is sleek, it’s also fairly robust. The boys can’t do anything a bit of polyfiller and paint won’t fix.”

For the architect designing another house in Highgate, it was the site’s constraints that gave rise to his creativity.

Linear House, in Southwood Lane, is a family home built on land that used to be the garden of Southwood Hospital. It is within the Highgate Ridge Conservation Area, and planning officers were sceptical any building would not change the character of the area or have a negative effect on the view from next-door properties.

But, as the ground slopes, the house was designed to cut into the site and gave it an intensively planted green roof so that it nestles in the landscape, and from the north and west is almost invisible.

The resulting building is reminiscent of a Japanese tea house and was intended by to be a contemporary interpretation of a classical garden pavilion.

  • Open House London takes place on Saturday and Sunday. Admission to all buildings is free. For more information, see