Essay on Architecture and the Industrial Revolution of London

Published: 2021-08-18 05:15:25
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Harvey Mudd College
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The memories and cultures of all cities are etched in their architectural landscapes in the form of buildings and masterplans. The buildings and other architectural structures are ways through which the past communicates with the present and the future of many cities. The modifications that arise in the building designs have all come about following years of ever-multiplying human needs. Most importantly, the technological and industrial developments form the major reasons behind the changes in the architectural landscape. This means that as industrialization and technological developments increase as years go by, the building structures and designs also have to keep pace and adjust to the changing environments. In particular, the city of London hosts some of the worlds most magnificent modern architecture. Numerous buildings and structures grace the city of London, which has shown great progress regarding embracing modernization that has come as a result of industrials growth and trade. Londons architecture responds to modernization caused by industrial growth through various means including responses to historical tragedies, wars, necessities, scientific knowledge and the advancement of information and technology.

Londons architectural development can be traced from centuries back during the Roman Conquest especially AD 43(Dunphy, 2017). This was a period of industrial growth which resulted in London being used as a trading point. This was an occupation which led to the rise of some the most memorable buildings in England which represent the history of England and its association with the Romans. One remarkable structure that showcases Londons history of functionality as far as buildings are concerned is the Tower of London which stands at the edge of the City on the eastern side. The white tower was mainly used as a fortress as its positioning near the Thames deterred attacks (, n.d.). Even though it still retains its identity and history, the tower has undergone some modifications to be used as a tourist site. The tower carries a cultural significance which is a significant aspect of modernity. The famous Crown jewels are still stored within the premises of this structure. It is of great significance to note that the building continues to be the royal palace. The massive growth in industrialization among other national successes is attributed to the palace which has retained its 16th-century role of power and government. In 1529, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey redeveloped the tower before it was later modernized by the plans drawn by Sir Christopher Wren. Its Stylized chimneys and pink decorative brickwork were influenced by Tudor and Baroque architectural styles, which are the medieval English and Roman architectural designs (Canizares, 2006). This proves that modifications that have come to the structures correspond to the needs which arise as time goes by.

Greats and highly skilled architects have contributed significantly to the development of London especially with the built environment to fit various purposes that come with modernity and industrialization. Some of the structures they built can be used to trace their contributions. For instance, the aspect of religion, especially Christianity is a major factor in shaping structures, and it dates back to the early centuries. Sir Christopher Wren greatly contributed to the expansion and the rebuilding of St. Pauls Cathedral in the 17th century (Phongsathorn, 2006). Striking the most is the enormous dome-shape symbol of the cathedral which designed to symbolize Londons skyline. This technique bears a great similarity with the baroque style that was a commonality in the medieval Rome. Having survived considerable centuries bedeviled by wars, St. Pauls Cathedral did and still continues to influence various developments in London. Various sections of England respect the views and agendas that originate from the Cathedral touching on any national issue.

Until 1957, London was the worlds largest city and was the first to record one million inhabitants. This reality led to the rise of spectacular buildings in the landscape of London fueled by the arrival of the Victorian Industrial revolution. The revolution came with the mass production of glass and other new building materials consisting of iron and steel. The most innovative architectural techniques and styles were designed using glass and iron. One of the structures which were built of these materials includes The Crystal Palace building which housed the great art exhibitions that took place in 1851 and showcased plans from other architects. The structure was initially built at Hyde Park before its popularity prompted its relocation to South London. Joseph Paxton was the architect behind the Crystal Palace structure even though the whole building was destroyed by fire in 1936 (Weinreb, 1993). Having realized the great possibilities inherent in the modern building materials, designers and architects approached the industry with open and creative minds which would later change the face of building and construction in the modern times.

The architectural landscape of London has also changed considerably to accommodate industrial revolution through response to some destructive historical events and disasters. Some of the historical events that have resulted in great improvements include the two world wars, the Roman invasions, and the great fire of London. The needs to recover from these events, rebuild the city, and accommodate new entrants were some of the motivations which altered the field of architecture in London. The level of destruction that the city faced following the first and the Second World War prompted the designers and the architects to reinvent and improve their styles in manners which could prevent some future possibilities like fires. Each invasion led to a new perspective of designing structures and buildings while every improvement brought advancement. The post-war migrants and the invaders arrived in the city with news and information from the outside which not only inspired but also enlightened the city dwellers. Among the migrants were a group of architects which came up with new ideas of housing designs which helped greatly with the problem of increasing population in the city of London. The great fire of 1666 inspired the building of the tall monument which rises 202ft in Pudding Lanes bakery site where the fire devoured 13,200 houses (Heathcote, 2016). As a result of this fire, a law was passed, the London Building Act of 1667, which required that all houses be built with stones or bricks. Other requirements contained in the act included specific wall thickness, window designs, projections, distances within buildings, among others. The requirements were made though and mandatory so that precautions would be taken while doing constructions minimize the spread of fires. That is the reason which propelled the rise of the elegant, stylish and highly admired architectural structures London.

Sporting activities also played a major role in shaping the architectural landscape of London. Sport was a byproduct of the industrial revolution and was shared among the industrialized economies (Vamplew, 2015). Sporting events like the soccer world cups and the Olympics gave the city a chance to improve its infrastructure and the stadia in which the activities used to take place. For example, the 2012 Olympics gave London a chance to restructure and modify some of its stadia, and the results included the magnificent London stadium in which the activity took place. Soccer remains one of the highly watched games in England with the country being the home of the Premier league watched by millions of supports globally. The soccer stadia in the country are magnificently built structures which represent how far London has accommodated some aspects of the industrial revolution.

Transport and Infrastructure are some of the sectors in which architecture in London has maintained its connection with the industrial revolution regarding structures and designs. History holds that the Romans preferred London due to its proximity to the River Thames. This acted as an eased means of transport. The spectacular bridges in the city of London propel its architectural story. The London Bridge, Tower Bridge and the Millennium Bridge constructed in 2000 are some of the architectural structures which tell the architectural journey of London (Vamplew, 2015). The Subway stations including the underground tunnels make London a transport complex. The Westminster station is one of the best remarkable structures designed by Michael Hopkins & Partners showing tough raw materials in use with a display of engineering grandeur. So fantastically gothic too are the overground stations. Noticeable are the structural techniques of the latticed roofing designed by John McAslan and partners, which decorates the Kings Cross Station.

Information and technology have also been the foundation of modern architecture in London. The industrial revolution has advanced so much through the use of technology and machines combines through the efficient functionalities offered by the host buildings. The manner in which IT and business converge contributes to the housing designs in which companies and various commercial buildings are constructed. The efficiency that comes with space management has given most architects reasons to maximize on limited spaces. The storeyed building structures have become common phenomena in modern architecture. The malls and the supermarkets, the exhibition halls, and the theatres among others have been designed lately to accommodate everything all under one roof. In London, one of these places is the London Place which is a commercial building which acts as the hub of various activities. The complex stands on the bank of River Thames and exactly southwest of Londons Tower Bridge. The building can accommodate up to 20,000 people and is designed in a manner that utilizes mixed-use space idea. More London incorporates the city hall, office blocks, restaurants, shops, a sunken amphitheater, cafes, well-designed pedestrian spaces lined with beautiful colored fountains. The open-air sculptors and water features give More London an epic view. It represents one of the greatest architectural structures designed by Foster and Partners, a group of architects whose other works have attracted a lot of admiration. More London is destined to have banks such as Ernst and Young headquartered at 1 More London Place. Consultants, associates, financial advisors, marketing partners, among other corporate individuals are located within More London Place (Jones & Woodward, 2013). This building brings together the combined architectural ideologies of various architects, designers and other multi-discipline professionals to ensure efficiency is achieved in every attempt to fulfill the necessities that come with the industrial revolution. The convergence of almost every service and operation within one building represents a futuristic postmodern ideology that will change the architectural field forever.

In conclusion, there are various ways in which the architecture of the city of London responds to various aspects of modernity as a result of the industrial growth. These include the responses to some of the historical tragedies like fires and the blitz, wars, advancement in the scientific knowledge, and increased necessities that continue to arise. Other ways include the sporting activities and migration. These are some of the ways through which Londons architectural landscape has embraced the industrial revolution. The skyline of London is and will keep evolving, but its identity wil...

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