About this guest author: Martin Jones is a journalist by day and wanderer by night, or well, during his vacations from work. He loves to travel Asia as well as writing about his exploits for a slew of online publications. In his spare time, Martin watches his beloved Barnet and reads countless fiction novels.
Most wanderlusters are aware of prominent structures such as Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in London, but as far as architecture goes, the city’s skyline is as cutting edge as any in Europe.
There are many projects in the works at the minute. Dezeen covered the proposed plan to include a cycling utopia where people can cycle above the city’s overground trains on a futuristic cycle path. Additionally, there are plans to construct a huge bridge that will link up the north and south of London. Or maybe it’s the possible redevelopment of Crystal Palace’s immense glass structure that is the most intriguing news of all for outsiders.
Whether you’re versed on pressing architectural affairs or not, London has such a diverse canvas when it comes to architecture that millions on millions of people flock to the capital every year to take in this vast metropolis. That said, let’s take a closer look at some of the most notable architectural wonders situated in London that have sprouted up in the last 20 years.
1. The GherkinThe Gherkin is one of the most noticeable buildings tourists see when they circle London en route to landing at Heathrow Airport. It was finished in 2003 and opened in 2004 in the middle of London’s bustling financial district. It is 41-storeys high and is nothing short of a modern marvel with its twisting beams and “has been likened to a pine cone” by many since it opened its doors to the public and London’s professionals.
2. The Shard
95-storeys high, The Shard is another modern phenomenon. Along with the London Eye it is the premier viewing platform to cast an eye over the rest of the city. From afar, it looks like a contemporary take on the Ancient Egyptian pyramid as it touches the upper reaches of the city’s skyline — although the building nearly didn’t get completed due to financial issues. If it weren’t for investors in Qatar, The Shard would’ve stood half-built. And even to this day, large parts of The Shard remain empty with huge amounts of office space staying untouched since its opening.
3. Wembley StadiumUnfortunately, Wembley Stadium underwent a complete overall. It no longer features the famous twin towers after being ripped down in the early 2000s. In 2007, a new Wembley was opened that would hold 90,000 fans in a state of the art sports venue.
Nowadays, you can get guided tours around the stadium, and peruse the memorabilia on show in the stadium’s museum. Also, the venue has taken on added responsibility this year. According to Betfair who cover the Champions League extensively, all of Premier League club Tottenham Hotspurs’ European games will be played at Wembley Stadium. So, for traveling sports fans, this is a great way to take in the history of British football as well as catching having the opportunity to catch a Champions League game. And don’t forget, the England national team also play their home games at Wembley.
4. City HallAnother building ahead of its time, City Hall was designed by architects Foster and Partners, opening its doors in 2002. City Hall is home to the Mayor of London and is a center point of the city. Lonely Planet states it has been compared to many things since its construction such as “an onion, to Darth Vader’s helmet, a woodhouse and a glass gonad.” It’s a huge 45-meter glass clad building that on occasions even host exhibitions.
5. The Millennium DomeOften referred to by locals as ‘The Dome’, it encountered a rough time during its early stages of construction and when it finally opened. Firstly, it nearly didn’t get finished like the aforementioned Shard, due to financial issues and construction problems. However, now it is a thriving entertainment hub chock-full of restaurants, bars and two custom-built music venues. The Indigo is the smaller of the two venues, which can take approximately 2,000 people for music and theatre productions. Then there’s the O2 Arena, which is a 20,000 complex that regularly showcases boxing matches, wrestling events, internationally recognised musicians and other high profile shows.
As far as its appearance goes, it’s probably worthy of its fifth spot on this list. It’s basically like a huge purpose built white marquee in the centre of Greenwich in the South of London next to the River Thames.
Are there any other contemporary structures you admire in London? Let us know in the comments.