The Best Architectural Buildings In London You Must See
Among many of the world’s places to sightsee and visit, London is one of those places that will easily stand out due to its myriads of historical architectural sights and landmarks of the past and present.
Here are some of these recognizable places to see if you somehow decide to visit:
The Tower of London
The Tower of London, built-in 1078 by William the Conqueror, is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city, once serving as a defensive fortification around the Thames River.
It currently serves as the royal palace for the Queen of the United Kingdom and is a UNESCO heritage site. Constructed primarily with Kentish rag-stone and mudstone, the fort consists of 3 wards that houses the innermost White Tower, serving as the primary keep of the castle.
Formally opened to the public in 2013, the Shard is a 310-meter-tall architectural and engineering building designed by architect Renzo Piano of Italy consisting of 72 floors within its spire-like structure.
It is the tallest building in the entirety of the United Kingdom, full of picturesque viewpoints of the entire city.
Visitors can enjoy luxurious and diverse meals on its floors, enjoy the accommodations of the Shangri-La Hotel or enjoy the sights from its “The View from The Shard” observation deck.
What makes the Shard unique in its architectural design is in its usage of specialized form of glazing in its window frames that gives the structure a distinct appearance due to the particular way it reflects light, which varies across the seasons.
Situated in Westminster, the Westminster Abbey or the Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster is a cathedral known for its Gothic design and architecture that served as a site for many royal coronations while also serving as a burial ground for monarchs throughout the centuries.
Initially constructed as a church that housed many monks, it was later remodeled by King Henry III into its present Gothic style of design that consisted of exposed vaulted ceilings, flying buttresses on its exterior walls, pointed arches and rose-colored stained glass adorning its windows.
The present-day Somerset House constructed by architect William Chambers in 1775, is presently London’s working center for arts and culture.
Before its reconstruction in the 18th century, it served as a residence for many of England’s monarchs.
Chambers designed it using neoclassical and Palladian architectural concepts reflected in the appearance of its water gates, Doric, and Ionic columns, and its spacious courtyard and façade.
Easily one of London’s most unique and innovative buildings, the Lloyd’s Building serves as the home of the Lloyd’s of London, an insurance company.
Designed and completed by Richard Rogers in 1978, it consists of 14 floors in three primary towers surrounded by three service towers.
Its most iconic feature is in the layout of its utilities and services which are situated on the outside of the structure. Rogers intended the design to declutter and maximize the space within its interior.
Also known as 30 St. Mary Axe, the Gherkin stands out as one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in London in part due to its curved and elongated design, which gives it a bullet-like shape.
Utilizing gaps in each floor to create shafts, enables air to pass through carefully, creating a more energy-efficient ventilation system for the structure during harsh weather conditions.
Combined with the glazing of the windows, this allows natural light to pass through the building and further reduces lighting costs.
The Gherkin serves primarily as an office building but also houses residential spaces and dining areas such as bars and restaurants atop its highest floors.
Originally built as a power station and now rebuilt, the Tate Modern is an art gallery and museum that houses the United Kingdom’s national collection of modern and contemporary art pieces from the 1900s to the present.
The Turbine Hall serves as the primary attraction to the Tate Modern. Even after its conversion to an art gallery, it is now, it maintains key designs of its original structure: unfinished bricks adorning its walls, exposed steel beams, and lengthy, narrow vertical windows that rise to its high ceiling.
Another key feature of the Tate Modern is its chimney, a feature left behind by the art gallery’s former function. Being 99 meters tall, it is readily seen across the river from St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The power station’s switch house is an extension of the current Tate Modern, now serving as an extra gallery space consisting of 10 floors. Primarily built using bricks, the extension resembles a pyramid with an open terrace for a wide viewing area at the top.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Built by architect Christopher Wren in 1669, this cathedral serves as the Anglican mother church where the Bishop of London resides.
The cathedral’s famous dome, which rises to 111 meters, has long since been a recognizable part of the London skyline due to its iconic brick cone design embellished by niches in its column structure with similarities to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The cathedral also houses a crypt that extends across the entirety of the structure rather than occupying a portion beneath it. Due to the nature of London’s clay soil, the crypt serves as reinforcement and distributor of the weight of the columns surrounding the cathedral.
First established in 1753 and later fully completed in 1852, the British Museum is the world’s oldest national public museum consisting of 8 million works in its collection.
Designed by Sir Robert Smirke with a Greek Revival style in mind, he designed the structure with 4 wings in a quadrangle layout, composed of 44 Ionic columns under a concrete base.
Portland stone was then used to complete the visible parts of the building. In 1997, a competition was launched to redesign the courtyard due to a lack of exhibition space, of which famed architect Norman Foster’s design won.
He converted the courtyard into the largest covered public area in Europe using steel and glass for its famous roof design that we see today.