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The Million Faces of London’s Architectural Style: Buildings worth visiting in London

Many people who visit London are drawn to the city’s iconic and historic architecture, with numerous buildings constructed centuries ago that still stand and remain recognisable today.

As you travel through its many quirks, marvel at the dizzying skyscrapers, or just admire the crazy skyline, we thought it would be interesting to take a step back in time and look at how we got here… architecturally speaking.

Baroque architecture: 1600 to 1750

Baroque architecture was a European style of architecture and interior design of the Baroque art movement, which began in Rome in the early 17th century, spreading to France, Germany, England, and other parts of Europe.

A Baroque building style takes its name from the Portuguese word “barroco”, meaning “misshapen pearl”, a negative description of an architectural ornament that was popular in Jesuit construction.

architecture Inside St. Pauls Cathedral

Restrained Baroque style inside St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

As an architectural style, it’s often associated with the Catholic Church during the 17th and 18th centuries. The church was one of the main patrons of baroque architecture, which is characterised by elaborate ornamentation and dramatic curves.

The ornamental detail can be seen on St. Paul’s Cathedral designed by Sir Christopher Wren above – a classic example of this style of architecture.

Georgian architecture: 1714 to 1830

Georgian architecture is a style that became popular in the 18th century and was the dominant form for townhouses, public buildings, and churches.

Named after King George I of England, this era became known as the Georgian period and thus, the architecture came to be identified as Georgian architecture subsequently.

The Georgian architectural style is based on symmetry and balance. The facade is symmetrical, with rows of windows located at equal distances from the centre and a door at either end. The roofline has a gentle slope or curve. The front door is generally surrounded by slender columns or pilasters topped with an ornate pediment.

Somerset House Georgian Building Facade

Georgian architecture at Somerset House, Strand, London.

Somerset House in London is the perfect example of this type of architecture. As you can see, everything is measured to perfection while the windows are paired with a decorative fanlight above – something that was typical for this type of architecture.

Regency architecture: 1811 to 1820

Regency architecture is the name given to a range of Neoclassical architectural styles predominant in England during the early 19th century and which were fashionable between c.1790 and 1820.

This period coincides with George IV’s reign as the Prince Regent before his accession to the throne as King George IV in 1820.

This period is most notable for the works of two architects: Robert Smirke and John Soane who are credited for designing the British Museum and the Bank of England respectively.

Example of Regency Architecture

A sample of ornate Regency architecture in the heart of London. Credit: Wikipedia

However, the most prominent regency architecture witnessed in London is the Burlington Arcade, a covered shopping centre that is today at the centre of the city’s day-to-day life.

Victorian architecture: 1837 to 1901

Victorian architecture is a series of architectural revival styles in the mid-to-late nineteenth century.

It is in many respects the last expression of the Gothic Revival movement of the early nineteenth century, which had been a reaction against Neoclassicism.

The word “Victorian” conjures up images of ornate furniture, dark wood panelling, and an overall feeling of formality. While Victorian architecture may be a bit stuffy, there is nothing boring about it. And despite its reputation, not all Victorian houses are dark and gloomy.

The Grand Stone Facade of Westminster Palace

Victorian architecture at the Palace of Westminster, London.

Designed by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin, the Palace of Westminster is the ideal example of Victorian architecture. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament, this building stands as a testament to the easily recognisable and picturesque Victorian architecture.

Edwardian architecture: 1901 to 1910

Edwardian architecture is a Western architectural style popular during the reign of King Edward VII.

In the later part of the 19th century and up until 1910, it was the dominant style for domestic architecture in England, Wales and Ireland. Its influence was pervasive, affecting not only domestic and municipal buildings, but also churches, banks, universities and public offices.

Example of Edwardian Stone Facade Near Trafalgar Square

A stunning example of Edwardian architecture near Trafalgar Square, London.

Strikingly decorative buildings and stone facades are a staple of Edwardian architecture, as seen at Admiralty Arch above.

Because it was a time of great prosperity, with more money circulating in society than ever before, the Edwardian period witnessed an explosion of wealth, and the desire to show off this newfound affluence with fine buildings and intricately designed facades.

Art Deco architecture: 1920s to ‘30s

The term “Art Deco” is a French one, meaning “modern way,” but the style is known as Art Deco actually originated in the 1920s in New York.

Though it often took on elements of other styles, such as Egyptian and Mayan art, it was most popular in the United States and Europe.

Besides being sleek and modern-looking, Art Deco architecture was characterised by its use of geometric shapes, symmetry and decorative patterns.

Outside of Battersea Power Station

Art deco architecture at Battersea Power Station, London.

A lot of the style was big and bold, with lots of chrome, mirrors and glass. It was also frequently used in movie theatres because it could evoke an opulent feeling. Art Deco buildings are also sometimes referred to as Streamline Moderne because of this association with the movement.

The Chrysler Building has been called the quintessential example of Streamline Moderne architecture. In London, you will find art deco-style architecture at Battersea Power Station.

Modern architecture

London is one of the world’s greatest architectural cities. From ancient buildings to modern skyscrapers and everything in between, London has something for everyone.

Since the mid-20th century, London’s architecture has been influenced by a variety of factors, including the location of buildings, advances in technology, and the economic climate.

London Skyline Showing It's History of Architecture

Aerial view of London’s skyline, including the famous Shard building.

Today, tall apartment blocks dominate London’s skyline. From glass facades to lavish exteriors, the city is home to some of the most luxurious buildings in the world today. And the Shard is the perfect example of London’s present-day architectural style.

Although there is diversity in London’s architecture, there are only a handful of ways to preserve the history and heritage of the city. So, it doesn’t matter whether your building is made of stone or glass, restoration is an important aspect of building maintenance.

At See Brilliance, we help you preserve the beauty of the old times and new, so they can live long enough to see the future. With 30+ years of experience, get in touch with us to know how we can help you clean and protect London’s history.

See Brilliance specialises in commercial restorative cleaning of metal, glass and stone facades. We provide commercial façade restorationstone façade restorationglass façade restorationTORC Cleaninggraffiti removal, and much more, across the UK.

If you’d like to get in touch today, call our team directly on 01635 230 888 or email [email protected].

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