Victorian Architecture

By Holzer, Laura | Social Studies Review, Fall 2001 | Go to article overview

Victorian Architecture


Holzer, Laura, Social Studies Review


Student Review

Sometimes walking into a beautiful building can be an extremely memorable experience. The buildings and structures that create a city can excite art lovers to the very core. When people talk about beautiful architecture, automatically one thinks of buildings such as the Leaning Tower of Piza, or the Parthenon, or The Empire State Building. The buildings that an individual sees daily in their own home city are unique and different in countless ways. Architects today take architectural models from the 1800s and combine them with older models A type of architecture that was extremely popular in the 1800s was Victorian architecture. Simple designs today very often copy the Victorian style to create a new style that is not necessarily original, but a creative remake of the classic style. Victorian Architecture's short but influential success in the 1800s led to the adoption of popular Victorian characteristics, such as the arched roof, into current architectural design.

In the early 1700s, "confusion" was the common word describing typical English architecture; in regards to both the structures of the architectural buildings and the architects themselves. No specific order or design was characterizing common architecture (Ferriday, 39). Fifty years later, a growing uniformity among the architectural designs aroused new thoughts on the modern building. Similar structures and a general trends toward specific characteristics could be found. Many buildings were erected with similar structures and plans, which caused the public to recognize a new architectural trend (Ferriday, 40).

Several reasons can be given for the sudden development of the new style of architecture: the affects of the Industrial Revolution being one of the biggest and most influential. After the Industrial Revolution, the average person became more inspired to create and invent new pieces of brilliance. The more patents that were created, the more encouraged people became to help the list of inventions grow. The collaboration of innovative ideas, and the demands of the middle class for a say in the designing of communities added to the new energetic attitude. People wanted a change in the traditional scheme of building. The current Queen, Victoria, saw the strange and innovative architectural emergence and encouraged the use of the style. By supplying architects with funds, she created an atmosphere which promoted the advancement of the new style. The title of Victorian architecture was in the Queen's honor (Ferriday, 45).

In Early Victorian, Constance Grieff wrote, "The early Victorian period was an era of tremendous creative energy, particularly in literature and music and art" (Grieff, 7). People, not only in England, but in Italy and France as well, wanted to support the new industrial movement. In 1851, The Great Exhibition was held at the Crystal Palace in London to promote British commerce, industry, and national pride. Victoria's husband, Prince Albert organized the Great Exhibition which even further boosted the growth of Victorian architecture (Ferriday, 177). Society wanted a newlook, and with the available resources and tools due to the Industrial Revolution, a new look was a feasible request. Architects studied older Greek and Roman structures as well as the buildings in England. The blossoming of minds and opportunities, combined with ability and talent created the new Victorian style (Grieff, 6).

The unique and sophisticated Victorian style is renowned for both the wide amounts of space provided in the rooms and the heavier materials used. Victorian architecture used thick brick and very often iron. The older, pre-Victorian buildings used lighter materials which made building easier, but sacrificed sturdiness. Victorian architecture did use lighter materials though, but primarily to rid structures of the massive walls which allowed more room for windows. With the lighter materials, architects were also able to erect high vertical constructions with more ease and speed (Grodecki, 13). …

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