March 28, 2016

London Walks: Modern Architecture

Taking a closer look at London's respectable collection of modern buildings.

London Metropolitan University

The London Met

London is a great city that supplies me with plenty of topics to cover. No way to be bored here. One of its features is that you can find some interesting buildings strewn all across the city. It is a quite common situation to find some by a surprise, in some neighborhood where one wouldn't expect it. Such as the other way when I was walking in Holloway and the Graduate Centre of the London Metropolitan University appeared. This gave me an idea to focus another of London Walks articles on the modern architecture. Let's start with residential structures, and move to offices later.

A bunch of interesting housing can be find in the south part of the Borough of Islington.

Lexicon and Canaletto - brand new 36 and 31 storey residential buildings in Borough of Islington.

Lexicon and Canaletto - 36 and 31 storey tall brand new developments

some others in the area..

Bezier Apartments. If you are wondering, 2 bedroom apt here runs for ‘round £900 per week.

Bezier Apartments.

But interesting modern architecture don't have to be from last 10-20 years. In the north tip of the City of London is the Barbican Complex, built between 1965 -1976.

Barbican (6)

It's a big area of terrace blocks, shops, schools, playgrounds, gardens, it contains the largest performing arts center in Europe and three residential towers, each 123m (404ft) tall. They shared a status of the tallest residential building in London until 2007. Nowadays is the post hold by St George Wharf, 181m (594ft) tall - but it won't be for long, as 200m+ projects are under construction already. But back to the Barbican:

It's a notable example of brutalist architectural style.

captivating angles everywhere you look

captivating angles everywhere you look

All of the examples above have a downside though - their prices. Basically, in the whole downtown (TFL zone 1) area, an unfurnished 2 bedroom apt can be easily over $1000 per week. Since that's not entirely what most would call affordable, there’s an enormous demand for housing that’s placed further away. The most wanted spots are close to some public transportation hubs, so one can get to the center quickly. Because of popularity of these locations, there are also interesting developments to see.

This is at the Elephant and Castle, south of the center.

This is a 148m (486 ft) tall residential building called Strata SE1. As you can see, there are three wind turbines incorporated into the structure. This contributes to a fact that occupants have their energy bills nearly a half lower than Britain's average. Cool as heck.

a 148m (486 ft) tall residential building called Strata SE1. There are three wind turbines incorporated into the structure, which contributes to a fact that occupants have their energy bills nearly a half lower than the Britain's average. Cool as heck.

..Or at Stratford. It used to be a part of Zone 3, but since 2016 it is included in zone two - making it the best value per money is at this moment.

Unex Tower, as seen from the Stratford station. In this building, you will be all set with $700 per week “only” for 2 bedroom apt.

Unex Tower, as seen from the Stratford station.

Better prices start in the zone two already, except of some premium locations, for example the Canary wharf. It used to be one of the largest docks in the world, but then the industry declined and by the 1980 the place became an abandoned ruin - until a group of people had an idea to convert this place into a major business district.

Originally published in the "LW: The Business District

So was done as they built there the tallest skyscrapers in Britain (at that time). Tons of new office spaces made demand for new housing soon, and it happened that the location became an upper market for living - as the new buildings maintain the place’s highrise standard. The boom continues to this day, with many new structures being constructed all around.

Residential towers at Canary Wharf

going tall is a big deal these days.  By 2020, around 30 new buildings over 100m (328ft) will be erected across London

Speaking of the Canary Wharf (Click for some pics from there), let's move to some other cool offices. It would be a sin to not mention the business district in the City of London:

City of London

The location is an attractive mix of older buildings with the hyper modern ones.


Moreover, every building is unique, and none is boring.

20 Fenchurch St.

20 Fenchurch St. 160m (525ft) tall, completed in 2014


One Lime Street reflects in the Willis Building. Picture originally published in the "London Walks: The City II"

I've already dedicated previous LW posts to this district (see "The City" and "The City II") so let's move on. Across the river is another area with offices, including the famous city hall:

London City Hall

Designed by Norman Foster, built in 2002

Further west is another landmark, nothing smaller than the Shard.

The Shard

EU's tallest (310m/1016ft) skyscraper, finished 2012.

Note that building to the right - that's the Guy's Hospital. its design might not be as impressive, but it happens to be the tallest hospital building in the world (149m 488'), which is quite cool. And; umm, it's also the place where I spent yesterday's afternoon. Well, and that's where this post comes to a premature end.

You know that proverbs about "interesting won't happen when you sits at home," "nothing ventured, nothing gained," and so on. I like to be outside, do some active stuff. But more active one gets equal more potential that something will go wrong. Long story short, I managed to tear up my knee. That said, there won't be another of "London Walks" (or any walks, while at it) in a near future.

Anyway. Which building is your favorite? Do you have a tip on some location I didn't include? Let me know in the comments and if you liked this post, check out more from the London Walks series. Thanks for reading.

Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Collections

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