More is More: Post-Modern Architecture in England

Historic England

On 10 May 2018 Historic England officially announced the listing of seventeen Post-Modern buildings. This gallery of images from the Historic England Archive showcases some of England's colourful and innovative houses, offices and industrial buildings designed in what is known as the Post-Modern style.

More is More: Post-Modern Architecture in Britain

Post-Modern architecture emerged in the 1970s as a critical reaction to Modernism and its 'less is more' principle. In Britain it was closely associated with the economic boom of the 1980s.


The style is an important strand of late 20th century architecture. Often colourful, eclectic, playful and bold, Post-Modern architecture is increasingly valued for its architectural and historical significance.

This significance has been recognised by Historic England with the addition of seventeen Post-Modern buildings to the National Heritage List for England in May 2018.

Thematic House, Kensington and Chelsea, London

Charles Jencks’s Thematic House of 1979-1985 is an early example of Post-Modernism conceived by the person credited with defining and fostering the movement internationally.

Jencks is a renowned historian and architecture critic and designer of buildings. The Thematic House is his most ambitious built work and is full of symbolism.

The design was collaborative, principally with the Terry Farrell Partnership, and including contributions from architect Michael Graves and artists Celia Scott and Eduardo Paolozzi.

The house’s themes relate to the seasons and the passage of the sun and moon, such as a ‘solar’ spiral stair to symbolise the sun’s rays, a Winter room with fireplace painted to resemble red marble, and a Spring room in a pale yellow colour with three busts to symbolise April, May and June.

Read the Thematic House list entry

Houses, Islington Square, New Islington, Manchester

The regeneration of the former Cardroom Estate in Manchester was undertaken by developers Urban Splash with the vision of architect Will Alsop.

Included in the scheme are twenty-three houses designed by FAT (Fashion Architecture Taste) for the Manchester Methodist Housing Group. The scheme aimed to bring together local residents' desire for traditional homes, innovative design and a sense of community.

Completed in 2006, the colourful Dutch-gable style facades are suited to the area's canal-side location.

Swedish Quays, Rope Street, Southwark, London

Built for Roger Malcolm Homes, Swedish Quays was designed by the architectural practice Price and Cullen and built between 1986 and 1990.

It was one of a number of schemes approved by the London Docklands Development Corporation, established to oversee the regeneration and repopulation of this part of east London.

Swedish Quays comprises houses and flats around two courtyards and a central landscaped avenue. Built on a site that formerly housed warehouses and granaries, the architects drew on many architectural styles and utilised the dockyard setting for design motifs. These include Classical columns and square-grid glazing bars.

Read the Swedish Quays list entry

Maynards Quay, Shadwell Basin, Tower Hamlets, London

The waterfront flats and houses at Newlands Quay, Maynards Quay and Peartree Lane, are part of the Shadwell Basin redevelopment commissioned by the London Docklands Development Corporation.

The scheme was built between 1986 and 1988 to designs by MacCormac Jamieson Prichard and Wright. It incorporates historical references and is finished in rich red brickwork and blue balconies.

The design draws on the architecture of Victorian docks with arches inspired by the Albert Dock in Liverpool, which in turn was modelled on the Basilica Palladiana in Vicenza, Italy.

Read the Maynards Quay list entry

1-67 Aland Court, Finland Street, Rotherhithe, Southwark, London

Formerly known as Finland Quay, this residential scheme was built between 1987 and 1989. It was designed by Richard Reid and Associates, a firm established in 1984 and responsible for competition-winning urban designs and buildings such as Epping Civic Offices.

The scheme's design draws on the design of linked mansion blocks that were characteristic of south London. The Architectural Review described it as like 'Classical villas by Decimus Burton...joined together and elevated with stuccoed bay windows and bands of brick by an Arts and Crafts architect.'

Built on the site of the former Greenland Dock, Finland Quay took its name from the dock's association with the Baltic timber trade.

Sphinx Hill, Ferry Lane, Moulsford, Oxfordshire

Also known as The Egyptian House, Sphinx Hill was designed by John Outram Associates. The practice was approached by an Egyptologist to design a modern house adjacent to the River Thames (or Isis).

Construction began in the spring of 1998 and was completed in spring 1999. Constructed in block work with precast concrete floors, the exterior of the house is covered in coloured, textured render.

The garden includes a cascade that flows through 'sphinx pools' towards the river.

Sphinx Hill, Ferry Lane, Moulsford, Oxfordshire

Arranged over two floors, the upper level of Sphinx Hill includes a large drawing room that features a pyramid-style fire.

The Circle, Queen Elizabeth Street, Southwark, London

The Circle was designed by one of Britain's foremost Post-Modern architectural practices, CZWG (Campbell Zogolovitch Wilkinson & Gough).

Built between 1987 and 1989, the scheme has four residential stories above ground-floor commercial units and two basement levels for car parking.

The use of stock brick reflects the multi-storey 19th century warehouses in nearby Shad Thames, and the use of cobalt blue glazed bricks references the area's 19th century dye and paints works.

At the centre of The Circle is Shirley Pace's bronze sculpture 'Jacob - The Circle Dray Horse', which celebrates the Courage brewery horses that were stabled here from the early 19th century.

Read The Circle list entry

China Wharf, 29 Mill Street, Southwark, London

China Wharf was built in 1982-3 to designs by Piers Gough of CZWG. It was an early part of the London Docklands regeneration.

The design is an example of how Post-Modernist architecture incorporates clevoer metaphor and historical references together with colour and a sense of playfulness.

The riverfront elevation has a giant pagoda-like centrepiece with striking colour and arched steel windows. The building also references the architectural heritage of nearby Victorian warehouses and grain silos.

Read the China Wharf list entry

Houses, St Mark's Road, North Kensington, Kensington and Chelsea, London

Terraces of houses and a block of flats in St Mark's Road and Cowper Terrace were designed by Jeremy and Fenella Dixon for the Kensington Housing Trust.

Built between 1977 and 1979, the development marked a turning point in the career of architect Jeremy Dixon, formerly a committed modernist.

While echoing neighbouring 19th century houses, the Dixons' terrace features red and brown brick exteriors, with white white cast stone coping and projecting red brick party walls flanked by colourfully-framed windows and panels.

The scheme was exhibited at the 1980 architecture exhibition at the Venice biennale.

Read 105-123 St Mark's Road and 1-3 Cowper Terrace list entry

Isle of Dogs Pumping Station, Stewart Street, Tower Hamlets, London

This storm water pumping station was built between 1986 and 1988. It was designed by John Outram Associates for the London Docklands Development Corporation and Thames Water.

This building is John Outram’s best known building. It is one of only seven surviving works in Britain by this important architect of considerable renown.

The creative, colourful design shows a return to the 19th century tradition of impressive municipal pumping stations and forms a key piece of public infrastructure within the industrial reclamation of London's Docklands.

Read the Isle of Dogs Pumping Station list entry

National Farmers Union Mutual and Avon Insurance Group Headquarters, Tiddington Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

The National Farmers Union Mutual headquarters building opened in 1984. It was designed by a team led by architect David Lloyd Jones of RMJM (Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall and Partners).

The building was on of the first in the country to consider environmental sustainability as a major design factor. Jones' environmental outlook has resulted in him being described as 'a godfather of the sustainable architecture movement in the UK'.

Legal and General House, St Monicas Road, Kingswood, Tadworth, Surrey

Legal and General House was built between 1986 and 1991 to designs by Arup Associates. The site's landscaping was designed by Peter Swann Associates.

The office building's innovative design combines Classical elements with traditional materials, modern technical innovations and energy efficiency on a green-field corporate campus.

Based around a double courtyard plan, the building is constructed on a reinforced concrete frame with metal and glass infill panels, brick cladding and limestone ashlar.

Read the Legal and General House list entry

Legal and General House, St Monicas Road, Kingswood, Tadworth, Surrey

The brief for the new Legal and General offices included highly serviced and flexible workspaces, computer rooms, storage, restaurant and sports and recreational facilities.

Energy efficiency was an important factor in the design. Features included external sunscreens and blinds to reduce solar heat gain, a passive solar storage system, and the staff swimming pool functioning as a heat sink.

210, 220, 240, 250, 260 and 290 Park Avenue, Aztec West, Almondsbury, South Gloucestershire

These offices were built between 1987 and 1988 by CZWG for the Aztec West business park. The choice of site was based on proximity to Bristol and the M4 motorway corridor - the so-called 'sunrise valley', which attracted high-technology and science-based firms in the early 1980s.

Constructed using a light steel frame, the building is faced in narrow bands of red and buff brick, with precast concrete concrete details.

The interiors of the building were planned for flexible subdivision to accommodate units of different sizes. The curving entrance courts were based on the turning circle of a car, paying heed to the out-of-town location of the business park workplace.

Read the 210, 220, 240, 250, 260 and 290 Park Avenue list entry

Lansdowne House, Berkeley Square, Mayfair, Westminster, London

Chapman Taylor was established as an architectural practice in London in 1959. Since its formation it has been responsible for several public and private buildings sited in some of the capital's most historic settings.

Landsdowne House is situated at the south-eastern end of Berkeley Square - one of London's most prestigious public squares. Planning permission was granted in 1983 to build a new multi-storey office block, sited on what was historically the gardens of the original 18th century Lansdowne House.

Chapman Taylor's building was constructed in 1987-8 for Legal & General Assurance. It is clad in Portland stone with a textured and rusticated lower level in Cornish grainite.

Turquoise Island, Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, Kensington and Chelsea, London

Also known as Westbourne Grove Lavatories, Turquoise Island was designed by CZWG.

Commissioned by local residents, the small, triangular building has two principal functions. At one end are public lavatories for male, female and disabled users. At the other is a florist's kiosk.

Set on a pedestrianised island surrounded on three sides by roads, Turquoise Island also incorporates a large clock for the convenience of pedestrians and passing traffic. The building was completed in July 1993.

Gough Building, Bryanston School, Bryanston, Dorset

Originally the Craft, Design and Technology Building at Bryanston School, the Gough Building was completed in 1988 to designs by CZWG.

The building is constructed in red brick with cast stone dressings. This echoes the Norman Shaw 'Wrenaissance' house that forms part of the school site.

The exterior bays of the Gough Building are separated by columns modelled to look like giant screws. These provide a visual reference to the building's function, and the column heads help to deflect sunlight from the classrooms.

Read the Gough Building list entry

Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, Trumpington Street, Cambridge

In the 1990s, a competition was held to convert the mid-18th century former Addenbrook Hospital into a business school for the Judge Institute of Management Studies. The competition was won by John Outram and design work began in 1991.

Outram's design utilized several of the hospital's surviving historic elements and were linked by a large glazed atrium. Built between 1993 and 1995, his creative and inventive alterations and extensions incorporate colour, pattern, detail and high-quality craftsmanship.

Read the Cambridge Judge Business School list entry

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