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Celebrating London Architecture

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The Shard

Location: London, UK
Architect: Renzo Piano Workshop
Built: 2012
Cost: Unknown

The Shard, which is formally known as The London Bridge Tower, was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, and was officially opened to the public in February 2013. Currently the tallest building in western Europe, the needle-point structure stands 309.6 meters above London Bridge Quarter and contains office space, restaurants, residences and the five-star Shangri-La Hotel.

From The View from The Shard on the 72nd floor - twice the height of any other viewing deck in London - you can enjoy stunning panoramas of up to 40 miles. The viewing decks are accessed by super-fast elevators, which travel approximately 6 meters per second. At the top, you can see where the structural pieces of the glass form the top of ‘The Shard’ and disappear into the sky.

The National Theatre

Location: London, UK
Architect: Sir Denys Lasdun
Built: 1976
Cost: Unknown

The Royal National Theatre company was originally based at the Old Vic theatre in Waterloo, but moved to its current location on the South Bank in 1976. It has seen its fair share of notable productions and performances, with actors such as Judi Dench, Anthony Hopkins and Daniel Day-Lewis treading the boards over the years.

Its imposing Brutalist architecture is very much a product of its time, but its angular aesthetic, featuring a mix horizontal and vertical elements, has become one of the Capital’s most distinctive sights. It wasn’t to everyone’s taste, however, with Prince Charles describing the building as “a clever way of building a nuclear power station in the middle of London without anyone objecting”. It has appeared in both the top 10 “most popular” and “most hated” London buildings in opinion surveys.

Battersea Power Station

Location: London, UK
Architect: Sir Leonard Pearce & Sir Giles Scott
Built: 1933
Cost: £2,141, 550 (A station)

Battersea Power Station is actually two different buildings, A Station and B Station, joined together to form the iconic four-chimney structure that dominates the local skyline. It ceased generating electricity in 1983 but still remains one of the largest brick buildings in the world, and is Grade II listed. The building’s exterior was designed by Sir Giles Scott, also famous for designing the red telephone box and Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.

The site is now part of a huge regeneration scheme that includes office space, residential apartments, shops, roof gardens, leisure space, and even a lift & viewing space in one of the towers. In 2016, it was announced that Apple will locate its new London headquarters at Battersea Power Station, while previous proposals include a theme park and a stadium for Chelsea football club.

London Aquatics Centre

Location: London, UK
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects
Built: 2012
Cost: £269,000,000

The London Aquatics Centre was a showpiece of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and is now a public swimming pool. The main attraction of the building is the wave-like roof, which was inspired by the smooth flow of moving water and was built to rest on the building without columns to give spectators an unrestricted view of the action.

The Aquatics Centre accommodates two 50m Olympic-sized pools, a 25m diving pool with boards, a gym, cafe and a creche. The diving boards rise up to 10m from the ground in sculpted smooth concrete into the highest part of the ceiling, before curving down and up again above the swimming pool.

London School of Economics Saw Swee Hock Student Centre

Location: London, UK
Architect: O'Donnell + Tuomey Architects
Built: 2013
Cost: £24,115,600

The Saw Swee Hock Student Centre, named after a donor to the project, is a distinctively jaunty building that stands in the heart of medieval London streets and period properties.

According to the architects, each sharp angular side is a response to the building directly next to it. The corners and brickwork have been constructed to enhance and protect the size and light requirements of the neighbouring buildings.

Inside, there’s a basement that houses a nightclub and bar, which is lit from the daylight at street level. It also comprises a cafe, career office, gym and a multi-faith centre, where students can spend time together and learn about different faiths, or take time alone to meditate.

One Pancras Square

Location: London, UK
Architect: David Chipperfield Architects
Built: 2013
Cost: Confidential

One Pancras Square, which sits between King’s Cross and St. Pancras stations, is one London’s latest flexible speculative office buildings, and is a central part of the wider regeneration of the King’s Cross area.

The most prominent feature of this understated building is the recycled cast iron columns that proudly surround the entire structure. These sturdy columns, which are forged from recycled car brake discs, are a nod towards the Victorian architecture and engineering heritage of the site

Having achieved a BREEAM ‘outstanding’ rating, this building is also one of the most sustainable in London, using the latest technology to reduce running costs for occupiers and minimise environmental impact.

Lloyd’s Building

Location: London, UK
Architect: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Built: 1978 - 1976
Cost: £75,000,000

Located in the heart of London’s financial district, the Lloyd’s building was designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, the minds behind the Millennium Dome and the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff.

Sometimes known as the Inside-Out building, it got its nickname as a leading example of Bowellism architecture in which many of the main services for the building, such as lifts and ducts, are located on the outside of the building to maximise space inside.

In 2011, it became the youngest building to achieve Grade 1 status, and has been said by Historic England to be “universally recognised as one of the key buildings of the modern epoch”. On the 11th floor is an 18th century dining room, which had been transferred from the previous Lloyd’s building.

The Switch House

Location: London, UK
Architect: Herzog & de Meuron
Built: 2016
Cost: £260,000,000

The Switch House was the result of a 12 year project to expand the capacity of the Tate Modern by 60%. It was designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron who were responsible for the conversion of the Bankside Power Station into the main Tate Modern building.

It was originally supposed to be a stepped glass pyramid, but this was changed to a brick facade designed to match the original boiler house’s aesthetic. The Switch House has 10 floors of art, exhibiting work by over 300 artists - a notable piece is a 22 foot tree sculpture by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

Senate House

Location: London, UK
Architect: Charles Holden
Built: 1932 - 1937
Cost: £362,000 (£23.5m today)

This imposing Art Deco building is the administrative centre of the University of London. At 19 floors and 210 feet high, it was the highest secular building in London when it was built in the 1930s. During the Second World, Senate House was used by the Ministry of Information, and was the workplace of George Orwell’s wife Eileen. It became the inspiration for the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s seminal novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

As well as Senate House, architect Charles Holden also designed many London Underground stations during the 1920s and 1930s, including the stunning Southgate tube station. The building also houses an impressive library and has featured in several Hollywood blockbuster movies.

Design Museum

Location: London, UK
Architect: John Pawson
Built: Moved to new building in 2016
Cost: Unknown

London’s Design Museum was originally housed on the south bank of the Thames in a former banana warehouse, but moved to its new home in Kensington in 2016 after around seven years of planning & construction. It was partly funded by a £17.5m donation from the museum’s founder Sir Terence Conran.

The new building is Grade II listed and was built in the 1960s, but stood vacant for over a decade. It features an eye-catching hyperbolic parabolic roof and modern interior split across three floors, tripling the space of the museum’s previous home.

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