16 January 2023

Robert Tavernor: A particular point of view, London and the picturesque

A session, part of the series of talks on “The Living Memory of Cities”, convened on 16 January 2023 in a collaboration with Eric Parry Architects and the Centre for Urban and Built Ecologies (CUBE), London Metropolitan University. With a keynote presentation by Robert Tavernor (Tavernor Consultancy, Architecture + Heritage) entitled “A particular point of view, London and the picturesque”:

00:00:00 Matthew Barac
00:03:23 Eric Parry
00:05:19 Robert Tavernor – Keynote presentation
00:50:58 Eric Parry
00:55:47 Nicholas Temple
01:02:14 Christian Frost
01:11:35 Matthew Barac
01:20:48 Robert Barnes
01:25:51 Eric Parry

Central London’s city image has been shaped by a peculiar compromise of heritage constraints, regional planning and world-class architectural design – in which the notion of painterly views has played a significant role. This talk will consider the changing visual image of London and the enduring impact of the ‘English picturesque’ on its evolving character and appearance. It will initially touch on key paintings from Canaletto to John O’Connor, the view from Richmond Hill made famous by Turner and protected by Act of Parliament in 1902, and then the wider public response to the changing skyline of London post-WW2, which led to the introduction of tall building policy and ‘views management’ to protect views of St Paul’s Cathedral and London’s World Heritage Sites. The City of London’s ‘Eastern Cluster’ of tall buildings will be used to illustrate how traditionalist and protectionist interests have clashed with contrasting ambitionssince the ‘Big Bang’ to develop modern urban typologies that befit a global city – and how the emerging cluster has consequently been shaped, three-dimensionally, through numerous framed views to create a new, unique image for London.

Robert Tavernor is Emeritus Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the LSE, where he taught between 2005-11. He was previously Forbes Professor of Architecture at the University of Edinburgh (1992-5) and Professor of Architecture and Head of the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at the University of Bath (1995-2005) and has heldvisiting academic posts internationally.