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History of UK Architecture

The landscape of Architectural progress in the UK has seen some fascinating changes over the centuries, so we thought to have a look into the rich history of UK architecture by way of 3 of the most influential Architectural styles that can still be seen today.

 

Edwardian Architecture

The architectural style of the Edwardian era (popular from 1901 to 1910) covered a variety of styles that were difficult to distinguish, from late Victorian design to the unique Arts and Crafts movement that would strongly influence the new suburban cottage-style estates. More Traditional architects were highly influential at the time, with Sir Edwin Lutyens being one of the most notable. Sir Lutyens, alongside other architects like Charles Voysey, had become well known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of their era. 19th century experiments that utilised reinforced concrete started to become commonplace in the Edwardian era. A ferro-concrete frame could be clad in brick or stone for more prestigious buildings or cased in concrete for more utilitarian structures.

Edwardian styles have since been incredibly successful and never particularly gone out of fashion since that period. The Arts and Crafts style is much admired and examples of Lutyens’ and Voysey’s work are prized. The country house style of Lutyens, especially in collaboration with the celebrated gardener, Gertrude Jekyll, has had a global influence and is still imitated even today.

 

Regency

There were two prominent architectural styles in the Regency period. The first, which extended well into the Victorian period, was The Gothic Revival style. This was based on Medieval architecture, in particular the Gothic churches of the late 13th and early 14th centuries.

The other, and more popular style reflected the public enthusiasm for the traditional designs of Greek and Roman architecture. The popularity of classical styles reached beyond architecture to include paintings, furniture, interior decoration and even dress. Many of the distinguishable terraces, much like those designed by John Nash, incorporated beautiful arches reminiscent of Ancient Rome. These arches, primarily in stucco, led to grand rows of houses with carefully balanced pediments fronted by pilaster columns. In fact, it could be well argued that John Nash helped define the style of an era. Through his friendship with the Prince Regent, his influence on Regency art and architecture cannot be overstated. He worked in many architectural styles, from Gothic to Italianate, Palladian, Greek, and Picturesque.

Excellent examples of Regency properties dominate Brighton and Hove in East Sussex; in particular in its Kemp Town and Brunswick (Hove) estates. In London itself there are many streets in the style in the areas around Victoria, Pimlico, Mayfair and other central districts. Cheltenham also provides many fine examples of Regency architecture and makes the claim to be the most complete Regency town in England. The Cheltenham Synagogue is judged by Nikolaus Pevsner to be one of the architecturally “best” non-Anglican ecclesiastical buildings in Britain. Royal Leamington Spa in Warwickshire also provides some fine examples of the Regency style, including parts of The Parade, Clarendon Square and Landsdowne Circus.

 

Victorian

The reign Queen Victoria witnessed drastic changes both inside and outside the home. It was the time of the Industrial Revolution and Britain was leading the world in technology. The surge in mass production meant more goods were available to buy. Therefore, the newly-emerging middle classes took a certain pride in owning homes that could reflect their social status.

The Great Exhibition of 1851 at the Crystal Palace showcased many of the consumer products that would be in high demand for the home. However, the Crystal Palace building itself was also a triumph of 19th-century engineering, making use of the latest innovations such as iron-frame construction, sheet glass and integral heating. The industrial revolution also meant that new machining techniques like lamination and electroplating were introduced.

Now whilst identifying technical advances in Victorian architecture is not difficult, discerning a single Victorian style is impossible, as architects drew their inspiration from past works and borrowed from a bewildering list of established architectural styles.

 

It is safe to say that the UK has always been innovating and experimenting with architectural design, whilst incorporating previous architectural trends and eras. As a leading recruitment consultancy, we provide a variety of roles in the architectural industry, in the UK and abroad. For more information, please browse our Architectural jobs sector to find out more.