Tower bridge London architecture
What architectural style is Tower Bridge?
Tower Bridge in London is a fine example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture. This style, popular during the late 19th century, was part of the broader Gothic Revival movement that sought to revive medieval Gothic architectural forms. The bridge’s design, characterized by its two imposing towers, features elements typical of the Gothic Revival, such as pointed arches, turrets, and intricate decorative stonework, which are blended with the technological innovation of a bascule and suspension bridge.
What are the architectural features of the Tower Bridge?
Tower Bridge, a defining symbol of London and a testament to Victorian ingenuity, is a combined bascule and suspension bridge that has enchanted both locals and tourists since 1894. Here’s an exploration of its distinctive architectural features:
Gothic Revival Towers: The most prominent feature of Tower Bridge is the pair of towers that anchor it at both ends. These are designed in the Gothic Revival style, characterized by their high, pointed arches and intricate terracotta stonework, reminiscent of medieval cathedrals.
Bascule Mechanism: A defining functional element of the bridge is its bascule (French for “seesaw” or “balance”) pivoting mechanism. This allows the roadway to split into two and lift up, enabling river traffic to pass through. The original mechanism was powered by steam hydraulics, which was a marvel of engineering at the time.
Suspension Sections: Flanking the central bascule spans are the suspension sections of the bridge. These are supported by the towers and anchored at both ends by abutments. The combination of the bascule and suspension design was revolutionary at the time and allowed for both a navigable channel and a long-span bridge.
Walkways: Above the bascules, Tower Bridge features two high-level walkways that provide pedestrian access even when the bridge is lifted. These walkways offer stunning views of the city and have glass-floored sections for a thrilling view of the bridge and road below.
Victorian Engine Rooms: The original steam engines, which powered the raising of the bascules, are housed in the engine rooms. These are a showcase of Victorian engineering, complete with polished pistons and ornate ironwork.
Decorative Features: The bridge is adorned with finials, turrets, and cresting that enhance its Gothic aesthetic. The attention to detail in these elements underscores the era’s emphasis on decorative craftsmanship.
Color Scheme: The bridge’s color scheme, featuring blue, white, and red paint, adds to its visual impact. While not an original feature (the bridge was initially a chocolate brown color), the current palette, chosen during the 1970s, is now synonymous with the landmark.
Cultural Symbolism: Beyond its physical attributes, Tower Bridge stands as a cultural and historical symbol. It has survived both World Wars and witnessed significant events, adapting to the needs of a modern city while retaining its historic character.
In conclusion, Tower Bridge is more than a feat of engineering. Its architectural features marry function with high Gothic artistry, making it a beloved icon and a must-visit destination in London’s urban landscape.
Who built Tower Bridge in London?
Tower Bridge in London was built by Sir John Wolfe Barry and his partner, the architect Sir Horace Jones. Horace Jones also served as the City Architect and was responsible for the bridge’s distinctive design, while John Wolfe Barry – an experienced civil engineer – oversaw the construction project. The construction of Tower Bridge began in 1886 and was completed in 1894. It was a remarkable feat of engineering for its time, combining a bascule and suspension bridge design to allow both pedestrian and vessel passage.