The Great Buildings of Great Britain.Published on 11th February 2017
With such a long architectural history, it is hardly surprising that Great Britain has a veritable plethora of amazing buildings. From the superb grassy sprawl of Edinburgh’s Scottish Parliament, right down to Portland Bill; that iconic lighthouse on the Dorset coast, the length and breadth of Great Britain is populated with glorious architecture.
This week at Apropos, we’ve decided to look at five of our favourite Great British buildings, and explore the reasons why we love them.
The Palace of Westminster – Arguably the most important building of Great Britain – few places have played such a role in the country’s history – the Palace of Westminster has an impressive architectural heritage. The first Hall was built in 1097 under William II. It has been at the heart of government ever since. Following the great fire of 1834, this house of intrigue needed major reconstruction work, leaving us with the striking emblem of democracy we see today.
The Eden Project, Cornwall – In 1995 there was a very large hole in the ground near St. Austell, home to a china clay pit. Then Tim Smit had an idea. In 2001 a visit to the local garden centre took on a whole new meaning! Tim Smit’s Biomes take the form of giant bubbles ‘because bubbles can settle on any shaped surface’, the design revolutionised architecture. More than that though, the project has helped to transform the way in which we view our environment – this is nature and artifice working in harmony.
Hampton Court, Herefordshire – Long before Cardinal Wolsey appropriated the name for the famous Surrey estate, the grounds of Hampton Court in Herefordshire were given to Sir Rowland Lenthall by a grateful Henry IV, for his derring dos in the battle of Agincourt. Unusually for the time, the King granted Sir Rowland the right to crenellate the structure, giving it castle status. Added to throughout the ages, this beautiful example of 15th century masonry has a further claim to fame – in 1846 a young Joseph Paxton designed and constructed a charming orangery for the house. Six years later, he went on to design Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition.
Selfridges, Birmingham – In the early naughties a strange transformation began in the rundown heart of Birmingham. Gone were the cattle markets and derelict buildings and in their place emerged a giant amorphous blob. These days it’s internationally known as the Selfridges building. It’s big, it’s brash, it cost £40m, but you can’t help but think that the original Mr S. would have approved of its faux-bubble-wrapped exterior. At the time of construction there was nothing to equal this building in the West Midlands for modernity and sheer joyful exuberance; it led the way in Birmingham’s regeneration.
The Shard, London – The latest, and one of the most controversial additions to the London skyline, the Shard is a modern masterpiece of architecture in glass. Home to a combination of offices, hotels and tourist attractions, the Shard is a crystalline needle in London’s beating heart. Some people love it, some people hate it, but either way it has to be acknowledged as a 23-storey feat of technical accomplishment.
Have we missed out your favourites? Let us know which buildings you think most enhance Britain’s architectural heritage.
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