London's Gherkin closed - by popular demand

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The Independent Online

The London Open House scheme, which allows free public access to privately owned buildings around the city once a year, had to shut its doors yesterday at London's latest and weirdest high rise.

The London Open House scheme, which allows free public access to privately owned buildings around the city once a year, had to shut its doors yesterday at London's latest and weirdest high rise.

An estimated three thousand people were turned away from the Foster and Partners-designed glass sky rise at 30 St Mary Axe, affectionately known as the "Gherkin". The harlequin-patterned office building had let the general public inside its curved glass walls for the first time, but demand was too great for everybody to get inside.

The Gherkin is one of 500 historic and contemporary architectural landmarks taking part in the event, which continues today.

Private homes, state-of-the-art school classrooms, city banks and government buildings are all included. This year a number of major construction sites have joined the event: the new Wembley Stadium, Heathrow airport's Terminal 5 and the Channel Tunnel rail link at St Pancras station.

Engineers and architects have been on hand to answer questions about their construction and design.

Victoria Thornton, the director of Open House, said: "Architecture is rightly considered a symbol of a city's culture, its identity, its personality, and the weekend is a celebration of all of this."

For more details, see www.londonopenhouse.org

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