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Edwardian architecture

edwardian architecture

The busy battle of styles of the Victorian period finally ended in an eclectic aesthetic, where the diverse melange of interests finally came together. With the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 after almost 64 years on the throne came a flush of new ideas, ornamentation of the Classical, and inklings of the birth of the garden cities, suburbia, and commuter-land.

The old English classical tradition of the 18th. and 19th.centuries burst into resplendant Baroque public buildings, such as Cardiff City Hall (1897-1906) by H.V. Lanchester and Edwin Rickards. Domes were especially popular. Notice the asymmetrically placed tower. This added a Picturesque touch to an otherwise classical design.

At the same time the Entente Cordial promoted by the francophile Edward VII encouraged a Gallic classicism, epitomised by the Ritz Hotel in London (1903-6) designed by Charles Mewes and Arthur Davis with Parisian faзades and Louis XVI interiors.

Another form of Edwardian classicism is sometimes known as Neo-Mannerism. Using a steel or reinforced concrete frame freed the walls for nonstructural uses of classical forms, as in the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool (1908-11).

19th-century experiments with reinforced concrete began to bear widespread fruit in the Edwardian

era. A ferro-concrete frame could be clad in brick or stone for prestigious buildings, or cased in concrete for more utilitarian structures. On the right you see a clever and practical mixture. Concrete floors were left visible in bands across the brick-faced facade. Concrete hoists are cantilevered out like oriel windows. The effect mimics Victorian stone banding and detailing on brick buildings.

The Gothic Revival continued to dominate church architecture, though in muted form. (e.g. Liverpool Cathedral). Mock Tudor retained its popularity for country houses, with leaded windows and half-timbering. Traditionalist architects held sway, with Sir Edwad Lutyens (1869-1944) in the lead. Watered-down versions of Art Nouveau. Japanese styles and Arts and Crafts filtered down into middle-class homes.

The exteriors of the detached and semi-detached houses of this period tend to be a little simpler than those of the Victorian period, yet with a wealth of coloured and decorative brickwork. It is also characterised by the growth of innovative modern architectural design, mock-tudor, towers, etc.

The style is well represented in the University area of Reading (for example Elmhurst Road, Eastern Avenue, etc. (click here for page on: Brick Ornamentation in Reading )

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