The UK has produced a plethora of outstanding architectural talent. Many of these British architects are internationally renowned, from Glasgow to London and Antwerp to Toronto.
Italian born Lord Richard Rogers is known for his functionalist and modernist designs in high-tech architecture. His inside-out Lloyd’s Building with its external elevator shafts and air ducts revolutionised the way architecture was done in 1989.
1. Lord Foster
Lord Norman Foster is the founder and chairman of Foster + Partners, an architectural firm that has built a worldwide portfolio of public infrastructure, airports, civic buildings, offices, and Birmingham architects. He is renowned for his forward-thinking and conceptual designs that often combine the lightness of steel and glass with user well-being.
At a time when British architecture was dour, Foster boldly reinvented skyscrapers by using spiraling geometric domes (in London), triangulated shapes (in New York), and tiered suspension structures (in Hong Kong). His designs often use off-site manufactured parts and the repetition of modular elements.
2. Richard Rogers
Rogers was born in Florence, Italy, and moved to England with his family in 1939, where he struggled with dyslexia. He first became interested in architecture at the Festival of Britain in 1951, when some of the fantastic temporary buildings caught his imagination.
He went on to study at Yale University in America, where he met Norman Foster and Paul Rudolph. After graduating, he formed an architectural firm with Su Brumwell and Wendy Cheesman called Team 4.
Their first project was Creek Vean, a home for their then-partner Su Brumwell’s parents. This was a significant commission and led to them working on the Reliance Controls electronics factory in Swindon, which was one of the first high-tech industrial buildings.
3. David Chipperfield
British architect David Chipperfield is a leading figure in the international world of architecture. His works are known for their minimalist yet historic-sensitive designs.
His philosophy is that buildings should be appropriate to their surroundings, and reflect the social values of their origins. This is evident in his numerous buildings.
He founded David Chipperfield Architects, whose offices are in London, Berlin, Milan and Shanghai. The firm has won over 100 international awards and citations for design excellence.
4. Zaha Hadid
Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid designed structures that were eye-catching, innovative and strong – yet soft to the touch. She was a pioneer in the field and a trailblazer who changed the face of architecture.
Her firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, has won numerous awards for their bold and imaginative projects. She was also the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize.
After studying at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, Hadid moved to London and enrolled at the Architectural Association School. She then worked for a prominent office, the Office of Metropolitan Architecture, founded by Rem Koolhaas.
5. Will Alsop
British architect Will Alsop, who died at age 70 on May 12, challenged established architectural norms throughout his career. He brought zany playfulness to commercial and residential buildings, subway stations, and urban master plans.
Born in Northampton, England, on 12 December 1947, he studied at the Canterbury School of Architecture and then London’s Architectural Association with Peter Cook. He later worked for Cedric Price, who profoundly influenced his outlook and personality.
In 1981 he founded the practice Alsop, Lyall, and Stormer with former AA classmate John Lyall (Jan Stormer joined them later). During this period, he designed the bright turquoise Peckham Library, which won the Stirling Prize.
6. Eric Parry
A highly regarded practice that is credited with several high profile City and West End projects, Eric Parry Architects has produced some of the most aesthetically pleasing buildings in the country. The firm also specialises in restoring sensitive historic landmarks such as the St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square.
The firm is also known for its innovative use of metals in its design, which has been lauded for their ability to help shape a regenerative, healthy city and provide sustainable everyday living. Among their most recent and impressive projects, the award winning Granta Park phase two for BioMed Realty has been deemed by some as the best example of its kind.
7. Sir Terry Farrell
Sir Terry Farrell CBE is a pioneer of postmodern design and an internationally recognised urban planner. He is the founder and principal of the London and Hong Kong office of Farrells & Partners, which has completed a number of significant masterplans, buildings and infrastructure in the UK and Far East.
Throughout his career, he has championed urban planning and helped shape government policy on key issues. He has been the Mayor of London’s Design Advisor and advises the Department for Transport on high speed rail. He has also been Design Champion for Europe’s largest regeneration project, the Thames Gateway.