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Birmingham Architecture Part 2

In the 18th century, Birmingham both as a city and the area began to expand thanks to both the industrial revolution and the new jobs, buildings and homes that came within it. Because the towns industry began to grow, many industrialists began to come with it, creating both their own factories, industries and jobs but even constructing new homes themselves. They did not just build their own homes, but also bought and modified existing homes around the area. The communities in and around Birmingham began to grow with the industrial revolution, which resulted both in the repopulation of those areas but also the construction of public facilities and religious houses for the new arrivals.

With the increase in tenants and inhabitants of the area, one of Birmingham’s landmarks were built. This was the construction of St Phillip’s Cathedral, built in 1715. It was originally built to be a parish, and with the building came great glass windows. These were designed and fashioned by architects who became famous after their times such as Thomas Archer and Edward Burne-Jones. An interesting additional fact was that prior to the Cathedral, the Church of the Ascension was also constructed. Other architecture created around this time zone was the Edgbaston Hall (which has since become a golf club), the Sarehole Mill (although it is rumoured the building itself was constructed around 1771) and even Perry Bridge. Perry Bridge was created both as a replacement for an older bridge, but also as a safer alternative.

Around this time zone, the introduction to both architectural types Baroque and Neoclassical became apparently. Not only did they creep in and become surprisingly popular within Birmingham, but you can see the effects of this wave within buildings like the Birmingham Proof House. The Neoclassical style especially became a staple of Birmingham architecture within the 1800’s. The centre of town itself was entirely remodelled to match the looks of the Neoclassical style, and it is believes that John Soane was the original architect to bring that to Birmingham.

Victorian Classicism


Soon after the introduction of Baroque and Neoclassical building styles, the Victorian architectural style came into introduction. Birmingham Town Hall is the most obvious and largest construction to use Victorian classicism, and that becomes apparent when you look at it. The Bull Ring and the market hall itself followed the Town Hall, being created in 1835 and was the first introduction to the Victorian look. With the introduction of the look, it made a surge throughout Birmingham. Another very notable inclusion into this list would be Curzon Station. It remains the oldest railway station building in the world, and was created in 1838. Originally created as a transport from Birmingham to London, it stretched to also Manchester and Liverpool over time. The original building still stands, and is a testament to how buildings can survive time.

I hope that you enjoyed todays blog post and some of the other blog posts that we have been posting in the last few weeks. I also want to give a shout out to York Loft Conversions, they’ve given us tons of information for this blog! Here’s their website.

Birmingham Buildings, part 1

The architecture in the city of Birmingham does not receive as much love as it should do. What many do not realise about the city of Birmingham is that despite the fact it has been around since before 1000 AD, the city does not have any history in terms of its buildings still standing from before the 18th century. With the industrial revolution kicking in full swing, the old architecture of the city never actually survived. This has actually allowed Birmingham to become a kind of blank canvass to some, and others have taken the opportunity to add constantly new architectural styles within the city that have allowed the city to become a merge of different architectural eras. Birmingham was even one of the first cities in the world to feature blobitecture, and the city itself has always been willing to try and focus their attentions on new marvels.

The history of Birmingham


With the onset of the industrial revolution, Birmingham as a city was one of the first to take advantage and grow as a settlement. They had an influx of both population to take the new jobs that the revolution caused, but also vice-versa. The most interesting and sad thing about this, was the result of the previous properties that no longer exist thanks to the revolution. During the rapid growth and the revolution, the city itself needed to find more space to house these industries. This resulted in the collapse and destruction of many pre-Victorian homes and landmarks within the city itself, especially after World War II. With these demolitions, newer buildings were created with the idea that Birmingham would become a cultural centre, and these Victorian houses were replaced with grand designs. In 2017, these grand buildings have either been or are currently being demolished to make way for newer, bigger buildings. One could say that the city is going through too much change and innovation at once, and the waves mean that the buildings and the city as a whole cannot stop.

Birmingham as a city however has housed many well-known or influential architects because of the constant adaption and change. This has become that much more significant since the rise of architecture in the city itself, which is allowing the city to really make a mark in the world of architecture. This shouldn’t be surprising, as Birmingham as a town has been around since the 600’s. Even though it has been around for that long, the sad fact that no history remains of it is what is worrying.

The actual city itself was designed as a planned town in 1166, and the town was actually planned around a market place (the Bull Ring). That is interesting to say the least, but the sad part of this history is when looking for the history of Birmingham within the city. It has been suggested that the only surviving evidence of the city from that time period was found underneath the whole sale markets, which was found accidentally. What has been suggested is that the town itself was built purely on timber framing, as there was a lack of building stone for Birmingham to be supplied with.

This is all for part 1 of the history of Birmingham, so if you enjoyed today’s post then please stay tuned in for tomorrow! Also, look at some of our previous posts when you get the chance because we have discussed a lot!

Wembley Stadium

Although this is a bit of a deviation from some of the other blog posts that I have done in recent days, there is a specific building in London that I want to talk about because of how big it is. Sure, we aren’t exactly talking about a more antiquated and royal building such as some of the previous posts, but Wembley Stadium is a great architectural marvel for both a sports stadium and a building in modern times. Whether you are from Birmingham, Manchester or Newcastle, when you come to London for a day to watch England play football with the national team or to watch one of your teams try to get promoted or win a cup, you know that it is going to be a day out that you will always remember because of how great and grand the stadium is.

Many in England (if not everyone in England) know that the new Wembley stadium opened in 2007 on the site of the old stadium after it was demolished 5 years before. The main reason that this stadium has become a staple for architects, builders and the average person over our lifetimes is because of what happens inside the arena itself. Wembley is the official arena of the England National Team, and it is probably the only stadium in the United Kingdom where you will see fans of other football teams truly unite under one banner. And if you were to take a look at Wembley stadium from the outside, you can see why. However, for the next year or so another football team will be using the stadium so I’m sure for that period of time Wembley won’t be completed loved!

More information on the building


The stadium itself however isn’t publicly owned, but rather owned by the head of national football within England, the FA. This has brought some controversy in the past since many are not really comfortable with the stadium being owned by a private company, but they had also helped fund the stadium so I’m not sure they should be disliked too much since it works out for everyone to an extent.

The stadium itself is beyond grand. While this is normal in other countries such as America, the stadium itself can fit up to 90,000 people seated. That makes it the largest football stadium within the UK, and the second largest in the whole of Europe. It is an immense football stadium and the retractable roof and huge arch make it look that much grander. The building itself is so large and it is one of the United Kingdom’s greatest architectural achievements. Not only can it fit such a large amount of people at one time, but having that amount of people makes no difference to the stadium or the attendees themselves. They haven’t just been used for English football games, but also for American Football, the Olympics themselves and even boxing and rugby.

The stadium has become a landmark within itself for both its history and the games that they host. Wembley has become one of the most important parts of English culture and it is if anything a sign of what a building alone can do for the people that it surrounds.

Buckingham Palace

The next architecturally marvellous building that I want to talk about here on Al Free Thought is Buckingham Palace. I’m sure many of you who are reading this are aware of what Buckingham Palace is, but if you are not then let me give you a very quick description and summary. The Palace is the official administrative and residential property of the current and future monarchs of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth the II. That is the official description but I will say that I think to this day it is a myth that the queen actually lives there, and it is more for show for tourists and visitors.

Nevertheless, it is an official royal residence that can still be used by her, and it is actually the centre of state occasions and hospitality for the royals and by the royals. It is also the national focus point whenever there is a time for national mourning and celebrations. The reason that I wanted to talk about the Palace today is because as an architectural building, it really is an outstanding feat, and there are not many buildings around the world with the same grandiose and beauty.

The story of the Palace is actually quite interesting, since although many see it as old as the Palace of Westminster, the true story is that it is relatively young. It was originally named Buckingham House, and it was the large townhouse of the Duke of Buckingham. It was not the size it is currently, and the majority of it has been built around the townhouse since then.

The Building itself


It was originally built as a townhouse in 1703, and have been on a site that had been purchased for private ownership. King George III was the original monarch to purchase the land and the house that sat upon it in 1761, and he bought it for Queen Charlotte. It was only during the 19th Century that the house was extended by architects, who built three separate wings around a central courtyard.  With the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne of the United Kingdom, the Palace as it was becoming the official London residence of the British monarchs.

The structure of the Palace itself was once again made, with additions being completed throughout the palace from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries. One such addition during this time frame was the East front, famously known for the balcony in which the monarch greets the crowds below. After these additions and during WWII, the Palace was one of the main targets for the German air force to bomb, with the palace chapel being one of the structures to be damaged during these bombings. This was then replaced with the Queen’s Gallery; a royal collection of art works to be placed into.

The building itself is a truly magnificent one. After centuries of additions and surviving weather conditions and even warfare for the most part, the fact that the building is still standing to this day should speak volumes. I hope that you have enjoyed today blog posts and will continue to enjoy many others that we will be bringing out in the future. I also hope you enjoyed some of the posts I have made in the past too!

The Palace of Westminster

Here at Al Free Thought the whole point of the blog is to really discuss some of the thoughts that I have on buildings and architecture around the world. Yesterday I spoke about the Shard in London, and today there is another building in London that I want to talk a bit about that I think is amazing. If you have ever seen the White House, you will marvel just at the pure size of the gardens and the white of the walls. But if you take a look at the Houses of Parliament in the United Kingdom, you will see a true architectural marvel. In fact, what you think is the houses of parliament is actually what is called the Palace of Westminster. The Palace of Westminster is often called the Houses of Parliament as it is one of the standing bodies within the Palace. The Palace itself is the meeting place for the House of Commons and House of Lords. The name itself was also taken from the neighbouring building that is the Westminster Abbey. The whole thing is a marvel, and it is by far one of the most attractive and beautiful government buildings in the world.

The history behind the architecture!


Many people may not realise this but the Palace of Westminster was originally built all the way back in 1016. The original site of the building was actually a strategically important landing zone for boats in the 1000’s. Canute the Great originally placed a residence there during his reign because of the strategic importance of it, and Edward the Confessor was the person who decided to build the royal palace there to begin with. At the same time, he builds Westminster abbey, and then the surrounding area had then been renamed to Westminster from its original name, Thorney Island. Because in those days the whole of the United Kingdom was split into provinces with their own ruling dukes and barons, the Palace of Westminster became the meeting point for all of these lords to meet to discuss a number of things such as the unification of England and wars among their times. As you can imagine, the ruler of the main English lands at the time as the king of West Minster, and his castle became the Palace of Westminster. That is why the building to this day is known as the House of Lords.

What many people often forget also is that the majority of the Palace of Westminster burnt down in 1834. The careless disposal of the Exchequers equipment in the furnaces under the palace had started a chimney fire that engulfed the palace for a whole night and burnt the majority of the building down. It took 30 years to rebuild the entire palace which had been completed in the 1870s. Another important thing to note is that it is not the prime minister or even England as a country that owns the Palace of Westminster, but rather the Queen of England. The Palace is still a palace, meaning the Queen has official holdings of the Palace until her death, which will then be passed down to whoever succeeds her. I think that is a really important and interesting thing to note about the building, since many would consider it to be a free owned building or owned by the state.

If you found todays blog post fun and you enjoyed yesterdays, then make sure you check out tomorrows as it will be just as good!

Al Free Thought – The Shard

My name is Al, and as you can tell by the name of my blog these posts will have everything to do with the random free thoughts that I have on a day to day basis. Now for some who may not already know me, I am actually an architect and I work in the construction industry, which is usually involving new builds. For those unaware, new builds are the designing and creation of new building properties, from the start to the finish. This is where I specialize in because I use both my architecture background to design the buildings themselves, and the construction experience I have to create the designs that I have made. I have done this for many years around the United Kingdom to the point I feel like I am a relatively known name within the industry. If you do not know me I would suggest you ask around to find out!

One of the greatest architecture projects of the recent times (and one that I really wish I could have worked on) is the Shard in the middle of London. It is a very, very large structure (the largest currently in London) that is mostly made of glass and took a few years to construct. I got the chance to take a look at it when I went down to London for a few days and it stands magnificent around the surrounding buildings. It really shines through London to make the city look really advanced and it is like something out of Blade Runner. It is my favourite projects around of recent times and I really look forward to seeing it every time I come down to London.

It took them a few years because of the design and the size of the entire project. The top of the shard actually is full of restaurants and bars for you to take a skyline view of London which is really good for tourists and travellers who have the money to see! But they also have other amazing concepts within the building such as a hotel and even a swimming pool on the 31st level of the building. For those who are unaware, The Shard actually used to be an office block that was deconstructed and reimagined to what it is today. The overall size of the new building is a total of 95 storeys (which may not sound like a lot, but when you see it with your own eyes you’ll realise just how big it actually is!).

The building is actually not just the largest building in London but the tallest building in the United Kingdom at a total of 309.7 metres or 1,016ft. Located right next to London Bridge, it is actually in the heart of the city and stands out amazingly. The shard itself was developed by the Sellar Property Group and they have done a great job to create the building itself. It also has the capacity to allow for base jumping and even climbing the building with an observation deck on the 72nd floor. The building itself is amazing and I would recommend everyone to visit it at least once for the technical marvel that it is. Tomorrow I’ll be doing a post about the Palace of Westminster so check that out!

My New Blog

Thanks for visiting my new blog, all about my thoughts on architecture and the construction/building business! In it I’ll try and talk about new forms of architecture, new and classic techniques of building and how I think the construction business will change over time.