Although I grew up in a town outside London, visits to the capital to see family and the sights were frequent throughout my childhood. I'd always been keen on art and design and my interest in modern architecture probably started when my Dad took me to see the Le Corbusier exhibition at the Haywood Gallery in 1987. My first photographs of modern architecture in London were taken in 1988 as part of a school project. I moved to London in 1989 to study graphic design at a place then known as Middlesex Polytechnic.
There are some very good guides to London architecture in book form, but they all have to make compromises because of space limitations. The guides that include a lot of buildings can't devote much space to each one, and often have only a short description with a postage stamp sized photo. Some guides only include the well known buildings or the most recent ones, which means than many interesting places get forgotten about.
The point of this site is to try and take advantage of what websites can offer and combine photos, text, floor plans and mapping information. I'm not limited by space, but I am limited by time. Some buildings have very minimal information at the moment. The site will always be a work in progress and I'm aiming to continue adding to it on a regular basis.
London, September 2009.
What's the criteria for a building to appear on the site?
The main reason for a building to be on this site is that I like it, or at least find it interesting in some way. There's a major bias towards north London because that's where I live. I'm going to stretch the definition of what counts as London as I see fit - I think the building furthest out is probably Stansted and I've included that because it's thought of as a London airport. The buildings are from the 20th and 21st centuries but I'm going to have to write a separate piece at some point to explain what I consider to be 'modern' architecture.
The purpose of the images on this site is to help explain the buildings - I'm not particularly interested in photography for it own sake. The internet is awash with digital photography and I don't really know what the point of it is most of the time. I'm certainly not trying to create 'art' photographs.
The majority of the photos on the site are taken with a Canon Powershot digital camera. However, you may be able to detect a few traces from a previous era of photography. There are a small number of images from 35mm slide and negative film taken with an SLR camera and a compact camera.
I occasionally do very minor digital retouching but I don't paint out graffiti, streetsigns or any of the other street furniture because I want the photos to be an accurate record of how the building is experienced as much as possible. I often crop the photos and for some of them I distort the image in Photoshop to correct for converging verticals.
Maps are something that guidebooks sometimes struggle with. My copy of Nairn's London contains grid references to an edition of the London A-Z that no longer exists. I'm able to include Google maps and Google streetview in most instances. I've also included bird's eye views from Microsoft 'Bing' - they're a great way to understand the form of a building from an aerial view.
I think floor plans are an essential part of understanding architecture. They're time consuming to research and produce so for now, they are limited to the housing category. All of the floor plans have been redrawn to ensure that they're in the same style and to the same scale.
Where appropriate, I've listed the sources I've used for each of the buildings. Some information comes from the web and some from books. I consult the periodicals in the library at the Royal Institute of British Architects for more detailed information about particular buildings. I've also leant a lot from numerous visits to buildings as part of the annual Open House event.