Neoclassical Roofs: All roads lead to dome
If you haven’t heard, there is talk of a potential executive order from the American President that would require all Federal buildings to be built in the neoclassical style of architecture. Given our recent article about Gothic Revival roofing (designed as a reaction to neoclassicalism), it seems that now is the time to share a list of some of the world’s best impressive neoclassical constructions, featuring bulging domes, towering columns, and pristine marble walls.
Neoclassical architecture, a part of the wider Neoclassicism cultural and economic movement, was born out of nostalgia for the glory of ancient Rome and Greece. The architecture incorporated aspects of the buildings of both civilisations, while also drawing on the Classicism movement of the Renaissance. Neoclassicism became associated with liberalism and republicanism due to its popularity in Revolutionary France and America, which is why it gradually fell out of favour in Britain and was replaced by the more medieval Gothic Revival style. It has, however, not truly gone away, as it was hugely popular in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and may yet return in the United States.
The Bank of England
The Bank of England is a large neoclassical complex built by the architect John Soane. Soane was employed by the bank in 1788 and built numerous offices and barracks for the bankers and guards, being paid 5% of any costs incurred in construction – a massive amount of money for one architect. The building hosts the central bank of the United Kingdom and is a beautiful example of neoclassicism in the UK; its frontal façade is supported by marble columns, and the building is topped by a triangular tiled roof – this does mean that construction workers must find wind resistant demarcation during any upkeep work carried out on the almost 300 year old bank. The Bank of England is an impressive building to visit and is definitely worth stopping by even if you don’t need financial help!
The White House
Everyone knows the White House. The home of every US President since Thomas Jefferson, it was modelled on Leinster House in Dublin, the current home of the Republic of Ireland’s legislature. The White House is world-famous for being the official residence of the President of the United States, and over 200 years of American history has been made within its offices. The White House was actually burned down in 1814 (during the inaccurately-named War of 1812) by Canadian soldiers, but was rebuilt shortly after. It remains the office of one of the most powerful men in the world and is currently occupied by Donald J. Trump.
Somerset House is a beautiful Georgian quadrangle built on the site of an old Tudor palace. It was designed in 1776 in the Palladian style which was popular in Britain and served for many years as accommodation for various public offices, learning societies, and naval administrators before the Second World War. During the war, the south wing of the complex was sadly destroyed by German bombing raids and was not fully rebuilt until 1952. From 1984 onwards, Somerset House has served as a centre for the arts, and is currently filled with design and technology institutions creating new cultural works each day. Visitors can take part in learning programmes engaging people in the arts or enjoy artistic exhibitions displayed in the building’s many offices. Much like the Bank of England, it is well worth a visit next time you find yourself in the capital.
The Paris Pantheon
The Paris Pantheon (or the Panthéon in French) was built as a church honouring Saint Genevieve, patron saint of Paris. The story of its construction begins in 1744, when King Louis XV made a pledge to build a temple truly worthy of Saint Genevieve if he recovered from his illness. Sure enough, he did recover, but did not begin construction of the Pantheon for another 10 years. The Pantheon was King Louis’ life’s work, but, in an ironic twist of fate, would not be completed until the French Revolution, a war fought against his grandson. The Revolutionaries then became a temple of “the nation” rather than any god or saint and was filled with statues of Revolutionary leaders. As the government of France flipped back and forth between Monarchy and Republic, so too did the Pantheon flip between temple and church. The Pantheon remains open to visitors today, a massive cultural landmark with an iconic roof decorated with beautiful neoclassical domes and ornate porticos.