Eight Modern Architectural Classics in London

15 May 18
Visiting London

Eight Modern Architectural Classics in London

15 May 18

London is home to plenty of iconic buildings, from the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben to St Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. However, this is a city that will never rest on its laurels, with internationally renowned architects continuing to dream up ever more impressive edifices across the London skyline. From soaring skyscrapers to giant slides, here are our favourite modern architectural landmarks to see in London. 


30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin)

Affectionately known by its catchier nickname, the Gherkin, this iconic building is perhaps the most recognisable of London’s modern architectural offerings. Located in the city’s financial district and covered by 24,000 square metres of external glass, it stretches up for 41 floors. For the best full-length views from the ground, we recommend stationing yourself at the corner of Leadenhall Street and St Mary Axe.

The Shard

Thrusting 310 metres above London’s sprawling skyline, the glass-clad Shard is the tallest skyscraper in the European Union. Designed by architect Renzo Piano and completed in 2012 after three years of construction, its 95 storeys comprise apartments and offices alongside a wealth of fine-dining restaurants and slick bars, all of which offer unrivalled views of the capital. The real star of the show, however, is the breath-taking vista from the observation deck at The Shard’s summit.

Leadenhall Building (The Cheesegrater)

Another building that’s more often referred to by its colloquial name, the Leadenhall Building, aka the Cheesegrater, is yet another architectural classic amongst the City of London’s modern skyscrapers, easily recognisable for its distinctive tapered shape.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower

Designed by sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond to be a lasting memento of London’s 2012 Olympic Games, the ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower may not be a building per se, but you can still ascend what is Britain’s largest sculpture (not to mention come down via the world’s longest tunnel slide), and in terms of design, it more than earns its place among London’s modern architectural classics.

20 Fenchurch Street (The WalkieTalkie)

Officially known as 20 Fenchurch Street, the distinctive shape of this charismatic skyscraper gave it its nickname, The Walkie Talkie. Uruguyan architect Rafael Viñoly was the brains behind its top-heavy structure, intended to maximise rentals across the coveted real estate of its higher floors. Instead, the top three storeys have been inhabited by London’s highest park, Sky Garden, which sprawls luxuriantly to include a handful of prestigious glass-fronted bars and restaurants.

The Great Court (British Museum)

The largest covered square in Europe, you can’t help but look up on a visit to the Great Court at the British Museum. Its magnificent glass and steel roof is constructed out of 3,312 panes of glass, each one unique, which means that no two views from the two-acre courtyard space below are the same.

City Hall

Serving as the headquarters of the Greater London Authority, including the Mayor of London’s office, City Hall’s award-winning architect Sir Norman Foster designed this somewhat bulbous yet elegant structure with energy-saving at the forefront of his mind. It has since become a much-loved fixture on the south bank of the Thames, providing a sleek counterpart to its neighbour, Tower Bridge.

Serpentine Sackler Gallery

Located right in the middle of Kensington Gardens, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery is as much a work of art as the canvases it contains. A true synthesis of old and ultra-new designed by Zaha Hadid Architects in 2013, this is one of the prettiest galleries in the capital.

Feature images © Ultraforma; Ivanastar; Valdisskudre; LanceB; ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower ay Queen Elizabeth Park; PocholCalapre; Trustees of the British Museum; DaLiu; Zaha Hadid Architects

Further reading

Contemporary Classics


Carefully curated for those with a sophisticated eye and a preference for slick design and minimalist interiors, the vacation homes in our Contemporary Collection are ideally located in London’s most fashionable neighbourhoods.

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