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Architectural Styles across Britain

Coordinating Teacher:


Argument.........p. 3

Prcis.......p. 4

Architectural Styles in the UK: Historical Background......p. 5

1.1 Anglo-Saxon Architecture...........p. 6

1.2 Tudor Transition.. .......p. 6

1.3 The Victorian Style......................................p. 7

Modern Architectural Styles....p. 9

2.1 High-Tech Architecture.......................p. 9

2.2 Brutalist Architecture...............p. 9

2.3 Postmodern Architecture..........p. 11

Conclusion.......................p. 12

Bibliography................................................p. 13

I especially like my work to present the hiddwn beauties of architecture because I am
passionate and drew or sculpted everything has a story that makes you think you live in a
different world .
My paper focuses on the way in which architecture in the UK has seen the most
influential developments in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They have each fostered
unique styles and played leading roles in the international history of architecture.
Even if there are many ruins of prehistoric structures and ancient Neolithic settlements in
the United Kingdom, we will primarily depict the architecture of ancient Rome that made its way
in Roman Britain with elegant villas, carefully planned towns and engineering marvels. We will
also illustrate the High-Tech architectural style that emerged as an attempt to revitalise the
language of Modernism, drawing inspiration from technology to create a new architectural
The architecture of the United Kingdom, or British architecture, consists of an eclectic
combination of architectural styles, ranging from those that predate the creation of the United
Kingdom, such as Roman, to contemporary 21st century. British architectural history effectively
begins with the first Anglo-Saxon Christian churches, built soon after Augustine of Canterbury
arrived in Great Britain in 597. Norman architecture was built on a vast scale throughout Great
Britain and Ireland from the 11th century onwards in the form of castles and churches to help
impose Norman authority upon their dominions. English Gothic architecture, which flourished
between 1180 until around 1520, was initially imported from France, but quickly developed its
own unique qualities.


My paper is structured into two parts. The first chapter is a historical presentation of the
architectural styles in the UK, whereas the last one depicts modern architectural styles.
In the first part I will emphasize the importance of the medieval architectural style which
exists only in the form of churches that were typically high and narrow. This style consists of
a nave and a narrower chancel, the only structures commonly built in stone apart from
fortifications. Then, the Tudor period constitutes a transitional phase, in which the organic
continuity and technical innovation of the medieval era gave way to centuries in which
architecture was dominated by a succession of attempts to revive earlier styles. Clearly, the
Victorian style will be thoroughly analysed as it also saw a revival of interest in English
vernacular building traditions, focusing chiefly on domestic architecture and employing features
such as half-timbering and tile-hanging.
In the second part I will focus on modern architectural styles, especially High-Tech
architecture that is an architectural style which emerged in the 1970s, incorporating elements of
high-tech industry and technology into the building design. Undoubtedly, Brutalist architecture is
another style worth mentioning as it was connected with the way in which buildings were
constructed, becoming popular with governmental and institutional clients.

Architectural Styles in the UK: Historical

Within the United Kingdom we can find the ruins of prehistoric structures and
ancient Neolithic settlements. The architecture of ancient Rome penetrated Roman Britain with
"elegant villas, carefully planned towns and engineering marvels like Hadrian's Wall". After
the Roman departure from Britain in around the year 400, Romano-British culture flourished but
left few architectural remnants, partly because many buildings were made of wood, and partly
because the society had passed into the Dark Ages.
Under the feudal system that dominated Britain, fitness for purpose characterised domestic
structures, particularly for the lower classes. For many, houses were dark, primitive structures of
one or two rooms, usually with crude timber frames, low walls and thatched roofs. They weren't
built to last. Although primarily homes, manor houses of the Late Middle Ages, were designed
with achieving respect and maintaining status through their hospitality and lordship rather than
the grandeur of their buildings.
Renaissance architecture was generally slow to arrive in Britain. Increasingly isolated from
the continent, landowners relied on new architectural books for inspiration, as well as surveyors
to interpret designs. This allowed for much more in the way of the ornamental facades
of Italianate architecture to penetrate the architecture of Great Britain. Georgian architecture in
Britain was the term used for all styles of architecture created during its reign by the House of
Hanover. These included Palladian, neo-Gothic and Chinoiserie. Initially, Georgian architecture
was a modification of the Renaissance architecture of continental Europe. It was a variation on
the Palladian style, which was known for balanced faades, muted ornament, and minimal
detailing. Simplicity, symmetry, and solidity were the elements strived for in British Georgian
England has seen the most influential developments, though Ireland, Scotland, and Wales
have each fostered unique styles and played leading roles in the international history of

1.1 Anglo-Saxon architecture

The architecture of the Anglo-Saxon period exists only in the form of churches, the only
structures commonly built in stone apart from fortifications. The earliest examples date from the
7th century, but the majority from the 10 th and 11th centuries. Due to the systematic destruction
and replacement of English cathedrals and monasteries by the Normans, no major Anglo-Saxon
churches survive.
The main material is ashlar masonry, sometimes accompanied by details in reused Roman
brick. Anglo-Saxon churches are typically high and narrow and consist of a nave and a
narrower chancel; these are often accompanied by a west tower. Some feature
a porticus (projecting chamber) to the west or to the north and south, creating a cruciform plan.
Characteristic features include quoins in 'long-and-short work' (alternating vertical and horizontal
blocks) and small windows with rounded or triangular tops, deeply splayed or in groups of two or
three divided by squat columns. The most common form of external decoration is lesene strips
(thin vertical or horizontal strips of projecting stone), typically combined with blind arcading.

1.2 Tudor transition

The Tudor period constitutes a transitional phase, in which the organic continuity and
technical innovation of the medieval era gave way to centuries in which architecture was
dominated by a succession of attempts to revive earlier styles.
The Perpendicular Gothic style reached its culmination in the reign of Henry VII and the
early years of Henry VIII, with the construction of King's College Chapel, Cambridge and Henry

VII's Chapel at Westminster Abbey. However, the Reformation brought an effective halt to
church-building in England which continued in most parts of the country until the 19th century.
By the time of Henry VII's accession castle-building in England had come to an end and
under the Tudors ostentatious unfortified country houses and palaces became widespread, built
either in stone or in brick, which first became a common building material in England in this
period. Characteristic features of the early Tudor style included imposing gatehouses (a vestige
of the castle),flattened pointed arches in the Perpendicular Gothic manner, square-headed
windows, decoratively shaped gables and large ornate chimneys.
Over the course of the 16th century Classical features derived from the Renaissance
architecture of Italy exerted an increasing influence, initially on surface decoration but in time
shaping the entire design of buildings, while the use of medieval features declined. This
development gave rise to palatial stone dwellings or prodigy.

1.3 The Victorian style

The 19th century saw a fragmentation of English architecture, as Classical forms
continued in widespread use but were challenged by a series of distinctively English revivals of
other styles, drawing chiefly on Gothic, Renaissance and vernacular traditions but incorporating
other elements as well. This on-going historicism was counter-posed by a resumption of technical
innovation, which had been largely in abeyance since the Renaissance but was now fuelled by
new materials and techniques derived from the Industrial Revolution, particularly the use of iron
and steel frames, and by the demand for new types of building. The rapid growth and
urbanisation of the population entailed an immense amount of new domestic and commercial

construction, while the same processes combined with a religious revival to bring about a
resumption of widespread church building.
The Victorian period also saw a revival of interest in English vernacular building
traditions, focusing chiefly on domestic architecture and employing features such as half-
timbering and tile-hanging. In the later 19th century vernacular elements mingled with forms
drawn from the Renaissance architecture of England and the Low Countries to produce a
synthesis dubbed the Queen Anne Style, which in fact bore very little resemblance to the
architecture of that reign. While some architects of the period were ideologically committed to a
particular manner, others were happy to move between styles.
The new technology of iron and steel frame construction exerted an influence over many
forms of building, although its use was often masked by traditional forms. It was highly
prominent in two of the new forms of building that characterised Victorian architecture, railway
station train sheds and glasshouses.

Modern Architectural Styles

2.1 High-Tech architecture
High-tech architecture, also known as Late Modernism or Structural Expressionism, is
an architectural style that emerged in the 1970s, incorporating elements of high-tech industry and
technology into building design. High-tech architecture appeared as a revamped modernism, an
extension of those previous ideas helped by even more technological advances. This category
serves as a bridge between modernism and post-modernism; however, there remain grey areas as
to where one category ends and the other begins. In the 1980s, high-tech architecture became
more difficult to distinguish from post-modern architecture. Some of its themes and ideas were
later absorbed into the style of Neo-Futurism art and architectural movement.

2.2 Brutalist architecture

Brutalist architecture is a movement in architecture that flourished from the 1950s to the
mid-1970s, descending from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century. The
term originates from the French word for "raw" in the term used by Le Corbusier to describe his
choice of material bton brut (raw concrete).
Brutalist buildings are usually formed with repeated modular elements forming masses
representing specific functional zones, distinctly articulated and grouped together into a unified
whole. Concrete is used for its raw and unpretentious honesty, contrasting dramatically with the

highly refined and ornamented buildings constructed in the elite Beaux-Arts style. Surfaces of
cast concrete are made to reveal the basic nature of its construction, revealing the texture of the
wooden planks used for the in-situ casting forms. Brutalist building materials also include brick,
glass, steel, rough-hewn stone, and gabions. Conversely, not all buildings exhibiting an exposed
concrete exterior can be considered Brutalist, and may belong to one of a range of architectural
styles including Constructivism, International Style, Expressionism, Postmodernism, and
Although the Brutalist movement was largely dead by the mid-1980s, having largely
given way to Structural Expressionism and Deconstructivism, it has experienced an updating of
sorts in recent years. Many of the rougher aspects of the style have been softened in newer
buildings, with concrete faades often being sandblasted to create a stone-like surface, covered
in stucco, or composed of patterned, pre-cast elements.

2.3 Postmodern architecture

Postmodern architecture began as an international style the first examples of which are
generally cited as being from the 1950s but did not become a movement until the late
1970s and continues to influence present-day architecture. Postmodernity in architecture is said
to be heralded by the return of "wit, ornament and reference" to architecture in response to the
formalism of the International Style of modernism. As with many cultural movements, some of
Postmodernism's most pronounced and visible ideas can be seen in architecture.
The functional and formalized shapes and spaces of the modernist style are replaced by
diverse aesthetics: styles collide, form is adopted for its own sake, and new ways of viewing
familiar styles and space abound. Perhaps most obviously, architects rediscovered past
architectural ornament and forms which had been abstracted by the Modernist architects.
Postmodern architecture has also been described as neo-eclectic, where reference and
ornament have returned to the facade, replacing the aggressively unornamented modern styles.
This eclecticism is often combined with the use of non-orthogonal angles and unusual surfaces
The aims of Postmodernism, which include solving the problems of Modernism,
communicating meanings with ambiguity, and sensitivity for the buildings context, are
surprisingly unified for a period of buildings designed by architects who largely never
collaborated with each other. These aims do, however, leave room for diverse implementations as
can be illustrated by the variety of buildings created during the movement.


My paper aimed at presenting the most influential architectural styles in the United
Kingdom. British architectural styles are characterized by the features that make a building or
other structures notable and historically identifiable. British styles include such elements as form,
method of construction, building materials, and regional character. Most architecture in the UK
can be classified as a chronology of styles which changes over time reflecting changing fashions,
beliefs and religions, or the emergence of new ideas, technology, or materials which make new
styles possible.
Architectural styles therefore emerge from the history of a society and are documented in
the subject of architectural history. At any time several styles may be fashionable, and when a
style changes it usually does so gradually, as architects learn and adapt to new ideas. Styles often
spread to other places, so that the style at its source continues to develop in new ways while other
countries follow with their own twist. After a style has gone out of fashion, there are often
revivals and re-interpretations. For instance, classicism has been revived many times and found
new life as neoclassicism. Each time it is revived, it is different.
Throughout the United Kingdom, secular medieval architecture has left a legacy of large
stone castles, with a concentration being found lining both sides of the Anglo-Scottish border,
dating from the Wars of Scottish Independence of the 14th century. The invention of gunpowder
and cannons made castles redundant, and the English Renaissance that followed facilitated
development of new artistic styles for domestic architecture: Tudor style, English Baroque,
Queen Anne Style, and Palladian. Georgian, Scots Baronial and Neoclassical architecture
advanced after the Scottish Enlightenment, and since the 1930s various modernist forms
appeared, though traditionalist resistance movements continue with support from Charles, Prince
of Wales. Therefore, British architectural styles remain the most spectacular and eye-catching
styles that grab everyones attention and are worth being admired and analysed.


Curtis, William, Modern architecture since 1900, Phaidon, London, 1996.

Hockney, David, A History of Pictures, Thomas & Hudson, 2007.

Pragnall, Hubert, Styles of English Architecture, Bastford, London, 2004.

Service, Alastair, The Buildings of Britain, Macmillan, London, 2009.

Architectural Styles,, consulted on the 7th of February,


UK Architecture and Design,, consulted on the 12th of

February, 2017.