London Metropolitan University Graduate Centre

Holloway in North London is not normally noted for its cutting-edge architecture. However the Graduate Centre on London Metropolitan University’s London North Campus was designed by the internationally-famous architect Daniel Libeskind, whose portfolio includes the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester. Opened in 2004, it is only Libeskind’s second building in the United Kingdom.

© Christopher Seddon 2009

Thames Barrier

Constructed between 1974 and 1982, the Thames Flood Barrier at Woolwich came into use the following year. The barrier is built across a 572 yard wide stretch of the river and divides it into four 200ft and two 100ft navigable spans, and four smaller non-navigable channels between nine concrete piers and two abutments. The structure was designed by Rendel, Palmer and Tritton and built by a consortium comprising Costain, Hollandsche Beton Maatschappij and Tarmac Construction at a cost of £534m. An additional £100m was spent on strengthening river defences for eleven miles down river.

Initially it was only raised on average twice a year, but since 1990 this has increased to an average of four times a year. The structure was never intended to cater for the effects of global warming, and by 2005 it was looking possible that a larger barrier might be required to protect London from flooding.

© Christopher Seddon 2009

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Inhabited bridges with houses and shops were once commonplace throughout Europe but now very few remain of which the best-known is the Ponte Vecchio (“The Old Bridge”) across the Arno River in Florence. There has been a bridge here since Roman times but it was twice destroyed by floods and the present structure dates to 1345. The original occupants were butchers, but these have long since been replaced by jewellers and art dealers.

© Christopher Seddon 2009


30 St Mary Axe, popularly known as the Gherkin, was designed by Norman Foster and opened in 2004. Seen against a foreground of more traditional buildings, it gives the impression of a vast spaceship that has touched down in the City of London.

© Christopher Seddon 2009

Church Loft, West Wycombe, Bucks

West Wycombe, Bucks is a small village located three miles west of High Wycombe, on the road to Oxford. This building with its large clock is known as the Church Loft, and dates to the early 15th Century. This extract from a 2005 Wycombe District Council character conservation area survey:

Church Loft is one of the oldest buildings in the village,having been dated to the early 15th century.The building is timber framed, with later brick infill, and the upperfloor oversails both front and rear on moulded bressumer beams,and is an open hall.The lower floor seems to have been small medieval shop units, although later records suggest they were used as tenements during the 19thcentury. The left hand bay is open as a carriagewayto Church Lane and contains the Village lock-up and whipping post. The right hand bay may also once have been open. The upper floor of the building has an open queen post roof. The Church Loft has a bell turret, and a particularly fine clock (dated 1668) overhanging the street. The clock mechanism remains within the Church Loft.

Photograph and original content © Christopher Seddon 2008

Three Lions on a House

James Nichols was a speculative builder who was responsible for the Peterborough Estate in Fulham and a number of properties in Barnes, all of which are adorned by sitting lion finials. Erected around 1890, the now highly sought after properties are inevitably known as “Lion houses” by local estate agents.

© Christopher Seddon 2008

An enigmatic relic, 213 Oxford Street W1

Abutting larger and more modern buildings, this attractive but slightly down-at-heel corner building has three reliefs suggesting a connection with the 1951 Festival of Britain. Just what this connection was I have been unable to ascertain. Today the ground floor is part of the adjacent Zara fashion store and its upper floors appear to be in use as office space.

© Christopher Seddon 2008

St Mary and St Joseph RC Church, Poplar E14

Constructed between 1951 and 1954, the St Mary and St Joseph Roman Catholic Church was part of the postwar Lansbury Estate development in Poplar. The original church was bombed during the war, and the site compulsorarily purchased by the LCC for the first phase of the Lansbury project. In return, the LCC provided a site for a new church. The building was designed by Adrian Gilbert Scott. Though less well known than his brother Giles, Adrian was a notable architect in his own right who specialised in work for the Catholic Church.

© Christopher Seddon 2008