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Victorian buildings

The Houses of Parliament (Charles Barry and A.W.N. Pugin, 1840-60) replaced the building destroyed by fire in 1834. A good example of the period's confused love affair with the past, it was summed up earlier this century as classic in inspiration, Gothic in detailing, and carried out with scrupulous adherence to the architectural detail of the Tudor period.

With its quiet, unassuming love for the vernacular of Kent and Sussex, and its rejection of Victorian pomposity, Philip Webb's Red House at Bexleyheath (1859-60) is the building which started the Arts and Crafts movement. It was originally designed for newly-weds William and Janey Morris.

Castell Coch, near Cardiff (1872-79), is a piece of inspired lunacy by William Burges, best known for his restoration of Cardiff Castle, an opium habit and the fact that he used to relax at home with a pet parrot perched on the shoulder of his hooded medieval robe. This reconstruction of a 13th century chieftain's stronghold - right down to the working portcullis - is scholarly, at least as far as the exterior is concerned. The interior is downright weird, combining High Victorian romanticism with Burges' own eclectic drawings from ancient British history, Moorish design and classical mythology.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art (1896-99, 1907-9) proves that there were a few dissenting voices raised against the Victorian trend to return to the past. Mackintosh was uncompromising in his rejection of historicism, and his buildings have more in common with the vertical geometry and sinuous curves of Art Nouveau work in France, Belgium and Austria. But his decadent approach to design met with hostility in Britain and, a few years after the School of Art was completed in 1909, he gave up architecture.

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Date: 2014-12-29; view: 215


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