A Brief History of British Architecture Before the Country Goes to Hell

David Plick — 

UnknownThe UK shocked the world today as citizens voted to leave the European Union. For reasons unclear: national pride, fear of immigration, fear of European economic instability, just plain ol’ drunk fun—they voted at a slight majority to “Brexit,” and quit a political and economic partnership which sought to create peace, unity, and security through the acceptance of various cultural and social ideas. Now, their Prime Minister has resigned; Scotland may vote again to leave the UK, financial markets around the world are plummeting, and millions of English people are still googling “what is the EU?” So, in the spirit of English humor, the Value of Architecture will give homage to great British architecture and its accomplishments throughout history (while they’re still there . . . ).

Neolithic (10,000 BC – 2,000 BC)


Looking like it would’ve been constructed by obscenely strong children, this early form of Brutalism was just bunch of rocks pushed next to each other. The designers didn’t factor an HVAC system into these structures because “human” bodies were most likely still covered head to toe in thick body hair.

Roman (43 – 410)


Wait—Rome in Britain? But wasn’t that the whole point of leaving the EU—to keep their nationality? That’s weird . . .

But believe it or not, the UK actually is geographically close to other European countries, which is why the Roman Empire did conquer some of their territory, extending into southern England into a province called Brittania.

Well, at least they got some Corinthian columns and Roman baths out of the deal.

Medieval (600 – 1200)


This style of British architecture probably makes the lads happy that they were invaded by the Normans, who ended up destroying almost all of these buildings, but who also, replaced them with much more stylish ones, i.e., in the Gothic and Romanesque form.

Tudor (Late 1400’s – 1600)


So many Henrys. So many mistresses and murdered women. So many bricks and stones, and depressed chimneys and long hallways with tapestries hanging on the walls. Somehow, even amongst all the misogyny, still charming in its own way.

Victorian (1837 – 1901)


The Industrial Revolution gave birth to the modern economy, Charles Dickens novels like Oliver Twist (and the horrid American Upton Sinclair), but also new materials that British architecture could use such as iron and steel. Manufacturing became mechanized, and this was a period of massive growth architecturally in cities like London.

International Style (1920 – Present)


Probably the most vague, non-descript name of any artistic movement in history, the International Style emerged because Hitler and the Nazis blew up so much of London (wait—wasn’t that one of the reasons the EU was supposed to be a good idea in the first place?) they were almost starting from scratch. Because there were so many buildings that had to be built, architects realized that the easiest thing to do was build something that is a square. So that’s what they made, and they called it “functional.”

The International Style was then co-opted by bloody Americans like Philip Johnson after they had an art exhibition at the MoMA.

Brutalism (1950 – Present)


It’s heavy, it’s dark; it’s somber and brooding which makes it look perfect in the rain. It would just rather not be bothered.

How utterly British.

By: David Plick

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