It’s World Architecture Day today and little bears are getting ready for their trip to the UK, so it seemed like a good time to look at some of the architectural landmarks of one of their beary favourite cities.
Nicknamed the Gherkin (a British colloquialism for pickle) in reference to its rounded form, Foster + Partners’ Stirling Prize–winning construction was built in 2004. Standing 41 stories high, the environmentally conscious building was commissioned by reinsurance provider Swiss Re.
A classic example of Brutalist architecture and the product of a postwar utopian vision, the concrete complex was designed by young British architect trio Chamberlin, Powell and Bon in the mid-20th century. The site includes the residential Barbican Estate and the Barbican Centre, Europe’s largest multi-arts and conference venue.
Little bears will be going to two concerts at Barbican Centre 🙂
Richard Rogers’s famous inside-out building is home to insurance company Lloyd’s of London. Taking cues from the Centre Pompidou, this three-tower Bowellist construction features external elevators and service functions, allowing for easy maintenance and flexible, open-plan interiors.
The St. Pancras train station first opened in 1868 and was followed by the completion of the east and west wings of the neighboring Midland Grand Hotel in 1873 and 1876, respectively. A masterful example of Victorian-era Gothic Revival architecture, the hotel was shut down in 1935 and fell into disrepair until renovations began in the 1990s. The site is now open for business in the form of the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel.
Completed in 2012, Renzo Piano’s recognizable Shard building is home to a number of restaurants, offices, a hotel, and a viewing gallery. Inspired by the concept of a vertical city, the over 1,000-foot-tall structure is one of the tallest buildings in Europe.
In 1644, Shakespeare’s second Globe Theatre (the original was demolished by his theater company in 1599) was torn down to make way for tenement housing. Lucky for theater and literature buffs, American actor, director, and producer Sam Wanamaker pioneered the creation of a faithful reconstruction of the Elizabethan playhouse that opened to the public in 1997. While historians are not 100 percent certain of the original theater’s design, Wanamaker’s revival is a painstakingly close approximation that includes such 16th-century architectural elements as a water reed thatch roof.
London’s iconic 19th century landmark was designed by Sir Horace Jones. Still operational, the bridge is raised approximately 850 times a year. Non-acrophobics can traverse the new glass-floor walkway to experience incredible bird’s-eye views of the city.
A trip to London would not be complete without a visit to one of London’s most famous landmarks — the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Weighing in at 13 tons, the clock tower’s bell was cast in 1858 by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
Little bears will complete their trip to London with a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament 🙂
The Christopher Wren–designed college is the focal point of the historic district of Maritime Greenwich, which is situated along the River Thames. In 1997, UNESCO named the London borough a World Heritage site. And little bears will be spending a whole day exploring Greenwich.
Another historic Sir Christopher Wren building, the cathedral is a prime example of English Baroque architecture. St. Paul’s is also home to a number of murals, mosaics, and sculptures, including Henry Moore’s 1983 work Mother and Child: Hood.
Originally purchased in the 16th century to be the meeting place of Drapers’ guild, the Hall boasts numerous period rooms, many of which maintain their original decor. These include an exquisite Victorian livery hall, a court hall, and a drawing room.
This out-of-commission coal-fired power station is now being redeveloped by Foster + Partners and Gehry Partners. Once complete, the new, cutting-edge complex will feature riverfront housing, shopping, dining, office space, and a hotel.
In 1757, the Pennsylvania Assembly sent the Founding Father to England as a colonial agent. He remained there for nearly 16 years, living at 36 Craven Street in London. The house is now the only Franklin residence still in existence. The home is open to visitors as a museum and science and research center.
For over a millennium, the Abbey has been England’s coronation church and has hosted at least 16 royal weddings, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 2011 nuptials. The church is also home to a number of historic oil and wall paintings, as well as England’s oldest altarpiece.
This still-operational, Grade I–listed music and performance venue had its foundation stone laid by Queen Victoria in 1876. The structure features a storied mosaic frieze, a glazed-iron roof, and a monumental Henry Willis organ.
Richard Rogers’s slim and elegant skyscraper at 122 Leadenhall Street was opened in 2014. Currently the tallest building in The Square Mile, the structure—unofficially nicknamed the Cheesegrater—is angled at 10 degrees to protect the skyline views of neighboring architectural landmarks like St Paul’s Cathedral.
Designed by Foster + Partners and opened in 2002, the structure is sustainable and almost completely non-polluting. Its bulbous shape allows for optimal energy performance, minimizing direct sun exposure and maximizing shade.
The national library of the U.K. and one of the largest libraries in the world, the British Library houses such spectacular and rare volumes as a vellum copy of the Gutenberg Bible and two 15th century editions of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and original Beatles song sheets. The library building itself has been given Grade I architectural status.
One of London’s most visited attractions, the London Eye — or Millennium Wheel — is a monumental Ferris wheel offering views of the River Thames. It’s the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel and features a 4-D cinema and Champagne bar.
This luxury shopping center features such high-end stores as Tiffany & Co. and Watches of Switzerland. But what makes this retail destination a must visit is the history of its landmark building. The structure was designed by William Tite in the mid 19th century and was home to Lloyd’s insurance market for approximately 150 years.
London’s 775-room royal residence can be recognized by its ornate exterior gates and bearskin hat–clad guards. The palace is the Queen’s official London home, and Duchess Kate and Prince William have been known to delight royal fans by making appearances on the famous Kensington balcony.
The serene Highgate Cemetery was opened in 1839 and features extraordinary examples of funerary architecture and acres of lush greenery. The cemetery’s most notable “resident” is Karl Marx, whose monument is a popular destination for visitors from all over the world.
Also called the Neasden Hindu Temple, this stunning and tranquil destination is an intricate example of Indian design and workmanship. The temple and surrounding grounds are open to the public for both Hindu prayer ceremonies and self-guided visits.
As its name suggests, the Tower was built in the 14th century to house the treasures of Edward III. It is one of only four surviving sections of the medieval Palace of Westminster.
Sir Christopher Wren’s Kensington Palace opened in 1899 and was the birthplace of Queen Victoria. The palace is the former home of Princess Diana and the current home of the residences of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. It also houses the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, which is open to the public.