London Under Construction: Inside a Shell

This weekend has been “Open House” weekend in London, so it’s time for a post about architecture.  How does London keep so many old buildings?  By letting them transform themselves inside a shell.

Deanery Street crane

I took that first photo on Deanery Street, Mayfair, where the south-facing facade is being retained while a new building goes up behind it.

Why go to such lengths to keep the facade of an old building?  Sometimes the facade is a thing of beauty;  sometimes it fits in well with the rest of the street; and sometimes the planning authorities insist on it.

You don’t want anything collapsing while you re-build behind it, so you need some super-sturdy support, as shown below in a close-up from New Cavendish Street, Marylebone.

new cavendish street building site

A similar structure supports the facade at another “re-construction” site in Craven Hill Gardens, Bayswater.

Craven Hill Gardens

Click here for a link to a website about the history of Craven Hill Gardens.  Even after the 2014 construction work, the street won’t look much different from the picture shown there of a postcard from 1908.

Finally, here is a photo of another site in Marylebone.  I will offer free tea and cake at a Marylebone cafe to the first reader who can tell me the exact location!

where in Marylebone?



11 Comments Add yours

  1. Wendy Kate says:

    It’s such a great idea that they keep the facades 🙂


    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      Even the hospital near where I live has the original facade, with modern surgical wards behind it.


  2. Andrew says:

    I wish HK would be so thoughtful about heritage. There it really is just a facade.


    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      And they must have good engineers there – it amazes me that you have such tall skinny buildings on hills.


  3. Darn! I should have paid more attention last week, but I didn’t know that coffee & cake were involved 😦


  4. It always nice when they keep the old front of a building. In my hometown they kept the facade of the old post office (built somewhen in early 1800s) in the city center and put behind it a small shopping mall 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      That’s great. Do they still have a post office somewhere in the mall? Or just the facade?!


      1. Only the facade but still better than nothing. The post moved to a huge new building in the 90’s and by now they had to sell that huge building and rent a tiny part of it for their offices


  5. pilipala51 says:

    That is fascinating. I didn’t know they did that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      It can look spectacular when a whole wall is left standing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kim in Fiji says:

    I would have never known. Thank you, Karolyn


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