Illustrious and acclaimed for virtually every one of its architectural impressions, British architecture has not only sustained through time, but for a good measure has exerted an affirmative thrust on the building industry.
For the time span of 1750 to 2000, the British museum has endured as much as the very style evolved. Foundations laid in 1753, the museum has been expanding ever since in size and demeanor. Directed by Sir Robert Smirke and later by his brother Sydney Smirke, architects Sir John Taylor and Sir John Russell played crucial roles in the nine phase project cycle. The sequence of structural extensions reached its pinnacle with an ultra modern futuristic phase vis a vis the Queen Elizabeth II Court.
Fronted habitually by the Greek styled portico in solid stone,functioning as an arena for public activities, the structures are a summation of Greek-revival, neo-classical architecture and modernism. The use of ancient pediments, sculpted relief work and lined colonnades recreate the Greek revival style in design. Clad in rich Portland stone outsourced from southwest England, there is an extensive use of concrete in the construction securing a base for the hidden cast iron frame holding the superstructure.
The most recent edition, the grand court by Foster + Partners comprises of a massive canopy in glass held by an overhead triangulate frame in steel, shielding around 2 acres of the courtyard. When on the inside, York stone- a type of sandstone from Yorkshire lines a major part of the flooring with the staircase balustrades in carved huddle stone and the Grand staircase washed in Aberdeen granite from the British Isles. Skylights pierced through the vaulted domed ceiling tie up with the numerous arched openings surrounding the voluminous central atrium, with perhaps the largest artifacts on display. Owing to the grueling three centuries of structural expansion, the British Museum could be contemplated to be as time- honored as the architecture it endorses.
Architecture in the UK entered in with crude megalith tombs particularly the oeuvres at Avebury and Silbury Hill. Much later, with the invasion of the Romans, Britain received their first large scale structures like Portchester and Pevensey that were later conformed to reinforced Castles. The Romanesque expression in design continued till the 5th century, setting off the ill-fated dark ages in Britain that lingered till the late 14th century.
Function driven structures like the White tower and the Durham Cathedral saw the light of day in spite of the mayhem that was rampant throughout UK. The 15th century was accompanied by lavish Tudor castles and manors governed by the procedural, fitness - for -purpose ruling the medieval era. Buildings as opposed to the preceding defensive theory, often facing internal courtyards were opened onto the streets characterized by elaborate spaces manifesting the status of the community class as flaunted in the Tudor styled, Elizabethan Longleat house. The rural set-up was a brick and stone infused one, instead of the anterior degradable timber houses.
17th century British Architecture emphasized an overtly dressed exterior with the flair of baroque adornment and touches of French, Dutch and Italian influence as seen in the queens house in Greenwich, and the St Paul's cathedral. Flat ceilings, colonnades, pediments and voluted domes were some of the distinguishing features. Georgian architecture consolidated the 18th century that saw the escape back to pure classical antiquity with buildings like the Circus bath faceted with greek orders lining the elaborate curve.
Even if the industrial revolution brought out the majestic Crystal palace- the first of the many 19th century marvels, it still suppressed the creative handiwork, making stereotypes of what could have been exclusive entities. Victorian buildings like the Houses of Parliament and Castell Coch epitomize the effects of industrialization and an affinity to art nouveau and Gothic-Tudor styles.While architects like Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier played with glass and exposed concrete respectively, Neo Georgian and renaissance architecture were kept alive. However, with the end of the 2nd world war, Britain converted to modernism with prefab, metal frames and concrete facades, customary outside the borders.
Throughout the rhythmic play of political ups and downs accompanied by unsettling styles excerpted from the legendary castles of Ireland, the medieval manors of Scotland and the gargantuan Museum of Wales, Britain have made their presence felt in World architecture. 21st century works like the Eden project, Millennium Bridge and even the London eye speak of a modern approach and a broadened spectrum of ingenious designs, although Britains defining moment begun with the end of World War II, with its bold and emphatic structures spread across Beijing, New York and India.
Images via Pinimg, Little World, Foster And Partners, Wikimedia, St Pauls, CDN, Grey Clark, Themes, Museedes Lettres