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Our favourite buildings that transform historical sites

What do St Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, and the Angel of the North all have in common?

They’re all iconic destinations loved by many, and so it’s no surprise that they were recently named in a new top ten of heritage sites.

The list is part of Historic England’s Irreplaceable: a History of England in 100 Places campaign, which brings together historic places and buildings from around the country.

There are ten categories, so naturally we were most interested in Art, Architecture & Sculpture, in which the BBC’s Arts Editor Will Gompertz selected the final ten.

We were delighted to see some locals make it in: Chatsworth House, and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (which Paul recently visited).

After looking at the top ten, we picked our own favourites from around the world. The results are below…

Bicycle Shelter, Oxford – James Wyman Architects
I really like the simple elegance of this bicycle shelter set next to an historic hotel in Oxford. It references historic motifs but in a very delicate contemporary way. This means it sits well with its historic neighbour without being overly dominant. [Alan]


Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax – Evans Vettori Architects
I had the pleasure of taking part in the RIBA Yorkshire awards shortlisting process this year and this is one of the projects that stood out for me. The way the extension knits together the existing context is beautiful and is a standout building from Evans Vettori’s impressive portfolio of work. [Paul]


Giants Causeway Visitor Centre, Northern Ireland – Heneghan Peng Architects
The visitor centre acts as a kind of elongated threshold that stretches to construct a route toward the famous stones. Concealed from the coast, it folds into a restored ridge line and camouflages itself with the skin of the landscape. Theres also something immensely satisfying about the conviction in its strong geometry; despite its interior looking a little like an airport… [Liam]


Neues Museum, Berlin – David Chipperfield Architects
I had the pleasure to visit this masterpiece in 2016 and it is absolutely magical! [Julie]


de Young Museum, San Francisco – Herzog & de Meuron and Fong & Chan Architects

I adore the de Young. It first opened in 1895 in Golden Gate park, and when it re-opened in 2005 it gave over two acres of land back to the park. A must-visit if you’re ever in the city! [Fera]

We also have two guest contributors this month.

John-Paul Walker is a partner at Walker Cunnington Architects and has extensive experience in conservation and reuse, often working with non-profit organisations. He also teaches at Sheffield School of Architecture and currently acts as Heritage At Risk Architect for Historic England.

The Great Court at the British Museum, London – Foster & Partners

An amazingly refined piece of architecture, but what I really like is the way that it not only unlocks the previously clogged up building, but creates a new urban route from St Pancras to Waterloo station. [J-P]

Sam Letchford is currently working with us and has just completed his fifth year studying architecture at the University of Sheffield.

Sala Beckett, Barcelona – Flores & Prats
The Sala Beckett Theatre reworks the complex layering of a 1920’s Barcelona building, which had suffered from disjointed development throughout it’s lifetime. Rather than stripping out the existing building, Flores & Prats brought it along for the ride, reworking it into new features and creating some fantastically theatrical spaces along the way. [Sam]


We’d love to know what you think of the 100 Places campaign (do give their podcast a listen!) and which of our selection is your favourite?