Speaker: Anthea Streeter
3 May 2016
This lecture divided nicely into two parts, looking principally at the changes to the famous City of London skyline viewed from across the River Thames. The first part gives a thumbnail sketch of how the City has grown through the centuries and the second part concentrates on the 20th and 21st centuries and looks at how new tall buildings are set to change the skyline even further.
We begin with the thriving Roman port when the forum and City wall would have dominated the skyline and we note how the medieval cathedral of St Paul’s towered over 100 parish churches. Dramatic pictures of the Great Fire in the mid 17th century indicate how London would change from a timber medieval city, with its famous London Bridge, to a brick-built city dominated by Sir Christopher Wren’s classical St Paul’s and its great Baroque dome. Victorian icons such as the picturesque Palace of Westminster upriver and the famous Tower Bridge, seen under construction from early photographs bring the first part of the lecture to a close.
In the second section we note how the growing scale of buildings at the turn of 20th century was limited in height by restrictions based on how high a fireman’s ladder could reach, 100 ft, and the challenge which this presented to architects. We consider the many changes to the London skyline as a result of wartime damage and how Richard Seifert’s designs in 1960s and 70s, particularly his prominent NatWest Tower (now Tower 42), altered the skyline.
Finally, we look at the new generation of tall buildings in London, the first of which was Foster Associates’ Gherkin, and how London’s skyline is becoming even more striking with such 21st century icons as the Shard
Anthea Streeter studied the Fine and Decorative Arts in London and continued her studies at Harvard.
It was while at Harvard, where there was great enthusiasm for American design, that she became interested in 20th century architecture.
Since returning from America she has taught on courses in Oxford and London and has lectured on the Country House course in Sussex and for several private groups around the country.
Anthea has a special interest in the architecture and design of 20th century.