Architecture of Life

Exploring architectures of controversy and celebration on London's bustling South Bank, where the worlds of tourists, actors and skateboarders collide


11:00am, Saturday, 5 May 2018


01:00pm, Saturday, 5 May 2018

Duration: 2 hours

Start: The London Eye

End: More London

This tour is wheelchair and buggy accessible

There will be a comfort break halfway through the walking tour

This is a past event

Architecture of Life is a walking tour exploring the cultural and artistic landmarks of London’s South Bank. The event tells the story of how the UK capital reinvented itself in the mid-twentieth century as a democratic and international centre for design, creativity and tourism.

Starting at the London Eye, the tour will delve into a former post-industrial landscape re-shaped as a waterfront civic zone from the rubble of the Second World War. We’ll hear the story of the rise and fall of the Edwardian Baroque County Hall and hear an architect’s view on the new Jubilee Gardens and the towering redevelopment of the Shell Centre.

Following the River Thames, we will pass the site of the British Film Institute’s soon-to-be-constructed landmark new home and the witness the South Bank’s most recent and quirky addition, The Jubiloo. Participants will then learn about the Festival of Britain which temporarily transformed the area into a showcase of innovative technology before marvelling at its sole surviving landmark, the Royal Festival Hall.

Proceeding along the river, the walk will venture into a world of Brutalist style architecture dominated by the iconic South Bank Centre and the Royal National Theatre which Prince Charles controversially compared to a nuclear power station. We will hear the latest debates about the future of these buildings and learn how a contentious multi-million pound restoration programme was derailed by a small group of skateboarders.

Passing the intended site of London’s controversial ‘Garden Bridge’ – the tour will take in several major landmarks of recent decades including the Tate Modern conversion of Bankside Power Station and its new extension, a Norman Foster-designed pedestrian bridge and the recreation of William Shakespeare’s historic Globe Theatre.

The tour will conclude where the Romans built the first bridge over the Thames and where today the super-tall Shard skyscraper dominates the skyline. In this landscape participants will learn how ancient features such as Borough Market and Southwark Cathedral continue to influence the present day and hear all about where this historic area is going next.

The tour will last for two hours, beginning at the London Eye and ending at More London.