To mark World Architecture Day on the 3rd of October, here we celebrate some of Britain’s most iconic and best-loved structures.
York Minster is an Anglican cathedral in the city of York, and one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. Whilst there have been churches on the site of York Minster for around 1400 years, with a record from 625 CE referencing a wooden church building as the baptism site of King Edwin (c.586 – c.633), construction of the building that exists today began around 1080.
Edinburgh Castle stands proudly on Castle Rock in the heart of the city, with a commanding view of the surrounding area. The oldest part of the castle dates from the 12th century and, over the centuries, the castle has been home to many royal families, been used as a military garrison, and suffered numerous sieges – it is in fact Britain’s most besieged castle. The castle is now Scotland’s top tourist attraction and is home to the Honours of Scotland (the Scottish Crown Jewels).
The Royal Pavilion in Brighton was built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV in the early 1800s. The palace and its surrounding gardens are an opulent and lavish display of wealth, with oriental style minarets and impressive glass domes. The main part of the palace was built between 1815 and 1823 but sadly, due to ill-health and the responsibilities of court, the King visited the finished palace only twice before his death in 1830.
Inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Blackpool Tower was constructed as a tourist attraction. It opened to the public in 1894, becoming Britain’s tallest man-made structure. As well as being able to ascend to the top of the tower, original visitors to the attraction could also visit the Tower Ballroom, the Tower Circus, and Dr Cocker’s Aquarium, Aviary and Menagerie.
With a view across the River Mersey towards Birkenhead, the Royal Liver Building opened in 1911 as the headquarters for the Royal Liver Friendly Society. The two 18-feet-tall liver birds which famously sit atop the two towers of the building are said to protect both the city to the east and the sailors coming into port to the west. Inspired by the tall buildings of New York City, the Liver Building is said to be the first skyscraper in the UK, despite being only 13 storeys tall.
Located in the heart of Cardiff, Wales’ Millenium Centre is the principality’s national centre for the arts. Construction began in 2002, with the first phase of the building opening in 2004, and the second part opening 5 years later. In its conception, the architect wanted to create a building that expressed Wales, and so it was built using locally sourced materials. Dominating the façade of the building is an inscription, written in both Welsh and English, which reads “In these stones horizons sing”.
Nestled in the middle of Cornwall, the Eden Project is home to the world’s largest indoor rainforest. The project transformed the crater of a disused clay mine where nothing grew, into a garden paradise featuring a rainforest biome, Mediterranean biome, outdoor gardens, and several exhibition spaces. The project cost £141 million to build and was opened in 2001.
Perhaps the most iconic modern building in London, The Shard, standing 72 storeys (over 1000 feet) high, is the tallest building in the UK. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, The Shard has a pyramid shape and is clad entirely in glass. Construction began in 2009, was completed in 2012, and the observation deck, The View from The Shard, opened to the public in 2013. The Shard is largely an office building, but it also houses a few restaurants, a hotel, and several residential apartments.