Architecture In London – A Living History

A look at the diverse nature of architecture in London and why there is no stand out style.

It is true to say that architecture design in London is an intriguing blend of old and new and its buildings and monuments are one of the reasons that so many tourists flock to the city.

Something Old

Architecture design in London began in the days of Henry and the other infamous kings of British History. Before the days of the great Kings London was capital of the southern part of the country only as the north was torn between the wars of the smaller Kings of Lancaster and York. Add this to the fact that most of the structure of the city was destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666 and we have to look past that date to try and find any kind of specialised architecture design in London. In short there isn’t one.

From the classic structures of the few Tudor survivors of the fire including the Tower of London to the Swiss Re Building, affectionately called “The Gherkin”, London is a diverse city as much in its architecture as its culture and there is no such thing as specialised architecture design in London. One of the oldest standing examples of design in London that attracts visitors in their thousands is that of Westminster Abbey, which, mainly Gothic in design, has been the burial and coronation place of monarch’s for centuries. The building’s construction began in 1245 by Henry III on an older religious site as the intended site of his burial. Even after the passage of time it remains one of the most impressive structures in modern day London.

Something New

Modern day specialised architecture design in London makes the landscape what it is today. The image of London’s towers and buildings lit up at night is known all over the world. The fact that London’s skyline is mainly low rise in comparison to other major cities makes the high rise buildings even more notable on the landscape. One of these, which is also an example of specialised architecture design in London is the Swiss Re Building. This bullet shaped structure rises from the heart of London’s financial district. When viewed from Leadenhall Street the building gives the viewer a true picture of the wide nature of London’s architecture; shadowed beneath the building is the 1532 structure of St Andrew Undershaft Church which has the rare distinction of surviving both the great fire and the blitz. The Gherkin is 591 foot tall with forty one floors and dwarfs its more ancient neighbour in stature.

Reaching For The Sky
Other examples of more specialised architecture design in London can be found in the forms of the BT Tower with its revolving restaurant on top and the buildings of Canary Wharf in Tower Hamlets. These are all business centres and it is from these examples of architecture design in London that the veins of London’s economy flow; it is inside these brightly lit creations that the financial strings are pulled and the city’s prosperity driven.


Mary Yohanan is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to design publications online and who has an interest in the study of specialised architecture design london.

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