Classicism is in our DNA. Just look at any terraced street

Richard Green Gallery, New Bond Street, London. Designed by George Saumarez Smith of Adam Architecture and completed in 2011

Classicism has been accused of responsibility for the Holocaust and the Grenfell fire but a new generation of architects can see past the baggage

Classicism runs deep in the veins of London. A long walk across the heart of the city would encounter classical buildings on every turn, from Somerset House and Greenwich Hospital to the Banqueting House and Covent Garden market. All around us are classical buildings by great architects from across the ages: Hawksmoor, Gibbs, Chambers, Soane, Nash.

But classicism lies too in more modest buildings, down to the simple houses arranged in streets and squares that make up so much of London’s urban fabric. These are not usually the works of great architects but of anonymous builders. In this British classicism seems always to have excelled, so that very plain houses could be given elegance simply by their repetition in terraces.

London has, of course, changed much in the last 40 years. Some parts have changed beyond all recognition, particularly those where clusters of tall buildings have appeared. All of this has altered London’s character immeasurably.

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