Architects’ vision of London takes inspiration from 19th-century Paris

Quinlan and Francis Terry are spearheading a fight against the wave of skyscraper construction in London, beginning with a classically inspired design for the site of Hyde Park barracks

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Architects’ vision of London takes inspiration from 19th-century Paris
Quinlan and Francis Terry’s ‘groundscraper’ design for Hyde Park barracks as apartment blocks / © Quinlan and Francis Terry

In a warren of rooms inside a 400-year-old townhouse on the Essex-Suffolk border, a counter-revolution against the most dramatic rebuilding of the London skyline in decades is gathering strength.

Eschewing computer power for sharp pencils and tracing paper, father and son architect team Quinlan and Francis Terry are drafting classically inspired designs for some of the capital’s most prominent sites in a fightback against plans for hundreds of new skyscrapers.

Working from offices wallpapered with copies of the Times from 1957 in the picturesque historic town of Dedham, they are the antithesis of their modernist rivals in central London studios. But their latest scheme confirms them as a spearhead of a growing movement for an alternative urbanism.

As part of a bid for one of the most sought-after and prominent “super-prime” sites in the capital, they have drafted a gigantic apartment “groundscraper” on the site of the army’s Hyde Park barracks in the style of the Paris city blocks planned by Georges Eugène Haussmann in the 19th century. It could be the sign of things to come. David Cameron last month appointed Quinlan Terry to a government panel advising on new housing design standards and awarded him a CBE. ….