Doors to the City

During the lockdown many places in London were forced to shut their doors to the community for safety. Although some places have started to reopen their doors, there are still some buildings that are shut to the public.

Using the inviting entrance of Old Finsbury Town Hall as inspiration, this activity challenges people to think about the function of doors and come up with ideas about how doors and entrances can be more welcoming to local communities and play a bigger role in connecting people to their local area.

Old Finsbury Town Hall

Download the activity booklet and go to pages 3 and 4 to learn more about the entrance canopy Old Finsbury Town Hall building in Islington which is used by the Urdang Academy. Scan the QR code using a phone to take a Google tour of the building

7 fun facts about Old Finsbury Town Hall:

1) The building is a Grade II* listed building. Some of its design features are protected by Historic England

2) The original building ‘The Vestry Hall’ was built in 1895 which is 125 years ago! Since then, the building has been extended.

3) Old Finsbury Town Hall is an original ‘civic building‘ used by Finsbury Council as an office to serve local people. In 1965, Finsbury Council joined the London borough of Islington and outgrew the building.

4) The building was empty for a number of years and went into disrepair. In 2005 The Urdang Academy acquired the building and restored and extended the building into a performing arts academy supporting young talent from all over the world. The building has been open since 2007.

5) The building is used for performances, and also hosts theatre shows, events and weddings in the original Vestry Hall. Profits from venue hire are used to support scholarships into the Urdang Academy.

6) The buildings architecture style is known as ‘Art Nouveau’ which is a unique modern style rarely used in London buildings and
influenced by buildings in international cities in places like Italy and Germany.

7) Beneath the building is an old underground bunker used in WW2 as an air raid shelter to protect people from bombing. The original doors are still intact.

To find out more about the story of this building visit:

Activity 1: Reimagine Old Finsbury Town Hall’s Entrance


  1. Print out the sheet on pages 5 and 6 on 2‭ ‬A4‭ ‬pages and stick them together using the dotted line as a guideline‭. ‬If you don’t have a printer go straight to Activity 2.

2. Think about how this entrance to the Old Finsbury Town Hall can be made even better to welcome people when the building is ready to open again to the public. Use colours and collage to imagine a temporary intervention. Think about the current uses of the building to inspire your entrance designs.

Activity 2 : Make your own re-imagined door using Cardboard 


  1. Start with a piece of cardboard and draw a door shape using a black pen or print out the paper templates provided on pages 11-14 of the activity workbook.

2. Cut out or draw shapes and start decorating the door with your design remember to think about a unique design feature for the door.

3. Stick the shapes to the door template and start building up your design, feel free to also use coloured pencils and wax crayons to develop your design.

4. Use a black marker to add more detail or symbols. For example you can use symbols that you see in your local area on signs. 

5. Once you are finished use a scissors or safety knife (adult supervision) to score lines on either side of the door to create flaps and fold the cardboard back so the door can stand up.

6. Your door is finished! Take a look at what we have made which is inspired by designer Yika Ilori’s colourful prints and the prints of the Ndebele Tribe in South Africa. Go to page 8 of the workbook to find out more about the background to these prints and their links to celebration cultural heritage. 

Doors of Islington – Some inspiration 

Go to pages 9 and 10 of the workbook to see some of the doors we found on our walk around Islington…

Mini Challenge

These doors are all located locally to the Old Finsbury Town Hall, see if you can spot them on Google Streetview or on your next walk, look at names of the buildings or street names on the pictures for clues. Start by scanning the QR code on page 4 of the workbook and take a virtual walk around the neighbourhood. Tick off the ones you find from the pictures and see if you can find them all!

Activate The City! is a placemaking agency and part social enterprise facilitating youth-led community development through activating vacant and underused spaces in cities. 

Tell us if you enjoyed this activity by emailing us at 

Share your creation with us by tagging @activatethecity on Instagram 

This is a project that was produced in partnership with Islington Council. With their support, the Open House Families team commissioned creatives to produce activities for families to enjoy from home, which all take their inspiration from Islington’s unique architectural characteristics.You can find more events occurring as part of the Open House Families festival here:

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