London’s Architecture: Learn About Its Brief History

Every single year millions of travellers go to London to take in the city’s culture and history. 

Tourists love London for many reasons, with one being the buildings. 

Many of these buildings can be seen from across the city. But how much do you actually know about the city’s architecture? 

With that said, let’s discuss the different architectural styles you can see throughout the city. 

Baroque

Baroque Buildings in London

Baroque designs are not the first architectural style introduced to London, but these designs are among some of the oldest. 

After the Great Fire occurred in 1666, around half of the buildings in London were destroyed. Christopher Wren was one of the prominent figures that undertook the task of rebuilding the city. 

Wren was a world-renowned architect, and he is the man behind many of the top 17th century buildings in the UK. Parts of the Hampton Court, as well as Saint Paul’s Cathedral, are some of his most notable London works. His work included parts of Kensington Palace. 

Wren was responsible for rebuilding various churches throughout London. St. Paul’s Cathedral was one of those churches. On that note, the cathedral is an excellent example of Baroque design, and there are several residential Baroque designs throughout the city. However, there are a lot more just outside of London. 

Georgian

The Georgians expanded London beyond the city’s boundaries as a result of the Great Fire of London. There are dozens of examples of Georgian architecture across the city. 

Furthermore, this was around the time when housing was built for profit. Multiple properties were built in just a single go. Before this, individual dwellings were built. 

The Georgians focused on building estates in London. This included the Bedford Estate and Grosvenor. In the central areas of London is where you can see many Georgian buildings. 

When Georgians were working to build London, the above estates were bounded by the countryside. Not only that, but garden squares were built right on the fronts of the city homes. The estates were mainly terraces, red brick, and featured tall windows. 

If you want to see great examples of this type of architecture, then head over to Bedford Square or Grosvenor Square in Mayfair. 

Regency

This architecture is defined as the period right after the Georgian era ended. 

It might have only spanned for around nine years, but many of the residential buildings in central London were built at this time. 

Homes that were built throughout this period feature white stucco on the front. 

One of the top architects at the time was John Nash. John undertook the task to design Regent Street. He also was tasked with laying out and designing St James’ and Regent Park. His best-known work was the redesign of Buckingham Palace. 

He redesigned the palace for King George IV. However, Nash was fired by the King because he could not afford to have his designs built. Compared to the Georgian style, regency designs are intricate. 

If you want to see regency architecture, then head to Regent Park. The roads surrounding the park is filled with regency designs. The same goes for areas like Belgravia. 

Victorian 

Buckingham Palace

After the industrial revolution, the Victorian era started to take place. This era is defined as the revival of intricate architectural styles. 

Some of the works that are good examples of Victorian designs include the Houses of Parliament and St Pancras Station. Such places have a Gothic touch to them. 

The Victorian era was also when mass housing was introduced. This means you can find plenty of examples of Victorian designs right on your street. 

Many Victorian homes in the city were built with the middle class in mind because many in the middle classes experienced real wealth. In fact, it was the first time for many people in a middle-class status. 

However, the Victorians were also the ones building homes for those who were working in nearby factories. They also worked on properties for the poor. This was a significant turning point for those living in London, as it allowed many sections of society to live in homes that were well-constructed and adequately taken care of. 

Slums started to be created in eastern areas of the city. This included the areas of Spitalfields and Whitechapel. More and more people were relocating to London with the hopes of finding work.

Edwardian

The Edwardians followed in the footsteps of the Victorians. They built many more homes throughout London. A lot of the houses were built in a terraced style. 

Throughout the Edwardian era, mass-homes were continued to be built. However, the style of homes was bigger than the ones built in the previous century. The design also saw the staffing quarters removed because there weren’t many people needing staff in their homes.

Homes built in this area were bigger and more spacious than the homes built in the Victorian era. They were also built on larger plots. Areas such as Hampstead Garden Suburb and Dulwich is where you can see great examples of Edwardian designs.  

Art Deco

There is no shortage of Art Deco designs in London. These can be found everywhere from Southgate Underground Station to the Balham’s Du Cane Court. 

Another good example is the apartment blocks that are found across London. St John’s Wood is home to many Art Deco designs. 

Post-War Architecture

Various areas of the city were bombed during the Second World War. This meant that many buildings had to be rebuilt. High rise blocks were built to ensure that residential housing could be made quickly. 

Examples of post-war designs include the Trellick Tower. Another example is the Barbican. The Trellick Tower was designed by Erno Goldfinger. 

Present Day

Tall apartment blocks continued to be built by developers. Now, the city is home to many high rise buildings that can be seen from afar. However, the designs today are more upscale and luxurious than the designs of the 70s and the 60s.

New homes have been built throughout and around London. However, these have been built mainly on plots where buildings once stood, but have since become demolished. 

Some of the homes are found within larger development projects in areas such as Barking Riverside, which are areas that tend to have more space.

The old buildings that we find in London require a lot of care to preserve the historical beauty, by continued restoration work and ongoing building surveys, so we can enjoy the centuries of building work in our great capital city of London.

Travel around London and spot the various types of building and their associated history

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