London is famous for its iconic buildings, like the modern Shard and the historic St Paul’s Cathedral. The architecture of the city is a major attraction for tourists and brightens the environment for people who live in the UK capital. Anyone walking through London today can witness the beauty of a range of architectural styles that have come together to create a diverse landscape.
The medieval architecture of London covers different styles including Gothic and Romanesque. It stretches through centuries and often features stained glass windows and arches. Some of the most famous buildings in the capital, including the Tower of London, were designed and built in medieval times. We have to admit that as much as we admire the beauty of White Tower at the centre of the famous fortress, we would not want to rely on its energy efficiency.
The Tower of London is not the only magnificent medieval structure in the city. For example, visitors can also enjoy the beauty to St Olave’s Church on the corner of Hart Street and Seething Lane and the Guildhall, close to Bank Tube station which was built in the early 1400s.
Baroque architecture is amongst some of the oldest that can currently be seen in London. This is due to the fact that many older buildings were destroyed during the Great Fire of London. When rebuilding began, Sir Christopher Wren was one of the architects at the forefront of the task.
- It’s one of Wren’s buildings that is arguably the most famous example of Baroque architecture in London. The dome of St Paul’s Cathedral dominates the skyline. In the crypt is Wren’s tomb and his epitaph in the cathedral “Reader, if you seek his memorial, look around you” is a fitting one. Other impressive examples of Baroque architecture in London include the Royal Naval College at Greenwich and Christ Church, Spitalfields.
The Georgian era was a time of big changes for London architecture. Building commenced outside of the City of London area and dwellings were constructed in groups for the first time. Prior to this time construction was centred on individual homes. This was also the period when building for profit was first introduced.
The most famous building from this time is Buckingham Palace. The home of the Queen is an example of Neoclassical Architecture which was developed in the second half of the Georgian period. Our guess is that the palace is a lot more energy efficient now than it was when it was first built. The same applies to other Georgian structures in the capital, such as Benjamin Franklin House and 10 Downing Street.
Regency 1811 – 1820
The Regency period lasted for only nine years but many homes in the centre of London were built at this time; the main feature of which was a white stucco front. The most famous architect of the time, John Nash laid out and designed Regent Street which is still one of the most well-known streets in London.
The Industrial Revolution in Britain meant that the country was more prosperous than it had ever been. This can be seen in the grand and intricate nature of Victorian architecture. It was also at this time that the first mass housing was built for both the middle classes with their growing wealth, and the poor. There are many magnificent examples of the best Victorian architecture that can be seen today.
The most famous example is the Palace of Westminster which contains the Houses of Parliament. The history of the palace goes back as far as the 11th century but the current gothic style structure was only completed after the original building was destroyed by fire in 1834.
Edwardian 1901 – 1910
Edwardian architecture carried on the tradition of terraced style homes. Most Edwardian homes had more space than their Victorian predecessors and there was no longer much need for staff quarters as fewer families had servants. Some of the best examples of Edwardian architecture can be seen in areas such as Dulwich and Sutton, Greater London.
Art Deco 1920s and 1930s
The Art Deco architecture of the 1920s and 1930s is some of the most striking you are likely to see. It had a futuristic quality for the time that helped it to stand out from everything that had gone before. BBC Broadcasting House in Portland Place is one of the most famous examples of Art Deco architecture in London. It was designed by George Val Myer and Watson Hart and opened in 1930. It’s curves and elaborate clock are typical of the Art Deco period.
Post war, 1950s onwards
The bombing raids of World War II meant that there was a need for mass building projects in London, in order to replace the housing that had been destroyed. This lead to the introduction of high rise buildings as a means of completing the task quickly and effectively. Several iconic buildings were created on bomb sites including the famous Barbican Centre and Trellick Tower.
There is still a trend to build towards the sky in London. However the high rise designs of today are much more centred on luxury, high quality of style and energy efficiency than the post war designs were. You only need to look at award winning structures such as The Shard to know that this is the case. The Renzo Piano designed building is a stunning feature of the London skyline and it’s also 100% eco-friendly.
The long history of architectural innovation in London has certainly created an eclectic landscape. It will be interesting to see what the future brings.