20th Century Buildings London, New English Houses, Modern Architecture England
Modern Architecture in London
20th Century UK Buildings: England Architectural Highlights
18 Sep 2011
20th Century Architecture in London
Modern Architecture : London’s Hidden Gems
London is rightly celebrated for its street upon street of glorious Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian properties – but this wealth of period housing is every now and again brought into sharp relief by an unexpectedly modern silhouette. Contemporary houses may be the exception to the rule in this great city, but there are still some extraordinary structures out there if you know where to look.
Of course, it’s the explosion of building by the Victorians that make it so hard to find the space to put up modern houses now – coupled with the fact that, for most British house buyers, their home is their castle and they like their castle to be old. But a few brave souls search out the development sites – usually on abandoned industrial land – and appoint an architect to create something that looks completely different. The developers may shy away from the avant garde but creative individuals are making a statement, often using the most up-to-the-minute building techniques to create eco-friendly dwellings for a more sustainable city-scape.
The problems facing London architects who want to experiment with modern housing design often fall into two main categories. Firstly, the shortage of suitable building plots means that when one does come to auction, the cost can be prohibitive. The second issue can be one of local opposition to anything that’s seen as ultra modern. Too many planners, under pressure from local interest groups, would rather see pastiche Georgian and Victorian houses being built than something that might have curves, sharp angles and unfamiliar building materials. However, once the land has been bought and planning permission achieved, a new build can be a sound investment; in high value areas of London, building costs can be low compared with buying an existing property, so there is scope for profit to be made – just depending on how much has been paid for the land.
5 of the best modern houses
1. North Several – this group of seven modern houses on the edge of Blackheath was built in the 1960s by architect Royston Summers, out of glass concrete and brick, with modern wood panelled interiors.
2. Hopkins House – this modern split-level steel structure was built in 1975 as a house and architectural practice, using techniques that were being developed for larger buildings.
3. The Stealth House – Robert Dye Associates built the Stealth House in 2005 in Camberwell by radically altering a 1950s bomb-infill house, adding a timber upper to the original masonry structure.
4. Artist’s Studio – this striking modern artist’s studio in Kentish Town was built to provide studio and gallery space in two artists’ garden and was shortlisted by RIBA for the 2005 Stephen Lawrence Prize.
5. Newton Road – this extraordinary house in Paddington was built in 1938 by Sir Denys Lasdun, the architect who went on to build the National Theatre.
This is just a tiny sample of London’s hidden gems – to get the chance to see some of them close up for yourself, why not book a tour via e-architect?
© Argrove Construction Company and Architects in London