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Determining London’s Future Classics

With London’s property market moving at breakneck speed, which of the developments will be considered classics by future generations?

“Judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.”


For the last 5 years London’s property sector has been subject to rapid and significant expansion. Increasingly regarded as a ‘safe’ option for investment, London has seen the industry boom with a recorded 263 skyscrapers and 30,700 residential units currently under construction. No doubt a selection of these will be perceived as classic examples of our era. However with current construction levels at an all time high, it is increasingly difficult to determine which will make icon status the cut and which will not.

Classic residential developments must define an architectural style of the period. There have been few developers in London’s history who have better succeeded in this than John Nash and Thomas Cubitt.

Nash (below) remains one of the most prolific contributors to London’s building industry. Responsible for the majority of the city’s Regency architecture between 1809-1830, his work includes many of the best examples of architecture at the time which defined the period. From Hanover Terrace, Regents Street and Regents Park to Buckingham Palace and Carlton House Terrace, many of his greatest achievements are counted amongst London’s finest architectural landmarks.

London also owes much to the work undertaken by Thomas Cubitt. A leading master builder in the second quarter of the 19th century, he was responsible for creating what is now known as Belgravia and much of Pimlico in the Neo-classical style. 

His work on the North and West sides of Eaton Square, Belgrave Square and Lowndes Square all exemplify his approach and remain amongst the most prestigious and desirable areas to this day.



It is easy to identify the work of these builders as classics. Both architects demonstrated a consistency in their stylistic approach which remained relatively unchanged throughout the length of their careers. They were also responsible for huge swathes of Prime Central London. Today the industry is less defined and influenced by a plethora of architectural styles, making it decidedly more difficult to determine which developments will be considered ‘classics’ in years to come. However a dominant trend is emerging in the residential market. Lead by architects such as David Chipperfield, John Pawson and Tadao Ando; their style of contemporary architecture is defined by a shared approach. Focusing on light, landscape, order, repetition and simplicity; the result is less of a formal style and more of a philosophy.

A considerable amount of the design process centres around forming a structure that is built to satisfy a specific purpose that fits seamlessly within its surrounds. Commonly defined as minimalism, John Pawson has described his interpretation as “the perfection that an artefact achieves when it is no longer possible to improve it by subtraction”. Essentially by removing the superfluous elements of the design, the finished product is highly usable and elegantly refined. The care taken in the selection of materials and finishes provides the sense of timelessness that is necessary in order to warrant the title of ‘Future Classic’.

We present 2 of the best contenders:




Nestled in a quiet enclave in Kensington, Holland Green is a development of three new build apartment buildings by world renowned architect Rem Koolhaas’ OMA practice. Grouped around the new home of London’s Design Museum, the strong cubist exteriors of the structures have been formed to blend seamlessly within the parkland setting.

Ranging from 7 to 9 storeys high, the building will house 62 apartments together with a secure basement car park, spa and entertainment rooms.


Architects: OMA

Developer: Chelsfield

Main Contractor: Mace

Completion: 2015




Located opposite Kensington Palace Gardens in London, One Kensington Gardens is a collection of 97 luxury apartments designed by David Chipperfield Architects. Whilst the original Grade II listed facade was retained, the original 1950s building has been replaced with a bold contemporary block featuring a minimalist façade finished in stone with bronze detailing.

In addition to 24-hour concierge and valet parking, the development includes an indoor swimming pool, a private health and fitness centre, spa and treatment rooms.


Architects: David Chipperfield Architects

Client: De Vere Estates Ltd

Main Contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine

Completion: Completed


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