Chronography of the Built Environment

Page last modified 30/11//2022


�Perfection (in design) is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but rather when there is nothing more to take away.� Antoine de Saint-Exup�ry


See also Road Construction


See below for Architects, planners, landscape gardeners, designers


30/5/1984, Prince Charles castigated modern architecture, in a speech to the Royal Institute of British Architects at Hampton Court, London.

1983, The term Sick Building Syndrome was first used, both for the building itself that apparently was causing its occupants to suffer headaches, nausea, dizziness, breathing problems, and also the illness of the people themselves. It was related to air coinditrioned inadequately ventilated sealed buildings with chemicals in the air from e.g. cleaning products.

1972, First use of the term gentrification, to convert previously run-down inner city property into more upmarket accommodation. The term usually had negative connotations of destruction of working class culture.

1972, The term sink estate appeared, to describe socially deprived neigjhbourhoods, also schools in these areas were termed sink schools.

12/11/1968. One thousand people attended the first public meeting of the Greater London Council. Ideas discussed included a monorail down Oxford Street by 1972 and an �end to the architecture of totalitarianism�. The Milton Keynes Development Corporation announced that the first blueprint for the new city would be available by February 1969.

22/7/1963, In Britain, a commission into slum housing was set up.

1953, The term �pedestrian precinct� came into use, for an area of town, usually a shoppoing area, where cars were exscluded. By 1963 there were streets being �pedestrianised�, i.e. banned to cars where they could formerly be driven. An earlier usage in New or Planned Towns was the term �precinct�, for a local system of minor roads that could only be accessed at one point from a major feeder road, so precluding rat running.

12/12/1951, The geodesic dome was patented by Richard Buckminster Fuller in New York, USA.(see also Buckminsterfullerene)

5/10/1933, In Birmingham, UK, a �95 million 5-year programme began to demolish the city�s slums

23/7/1927, An exhibition housing estate opened to the public in Weissenhof, near Stuttgart, Germany. Designed by 16 leading Modernist architects, the flats were high-standard but cheap through use of prefabricated components.

29/1/1927. In London the Park Lane Hotel opened, the first with en-suite bathrooms.

1922, German-born US architect Mies van der Rohe developed �ribbon windows�, windows divided only by narrow concrete slabs.


Smaller livng spaces,

1982, The term cardboard city was first used for the areas where many homeless people slept near each other at night, in malkeshift cardbpoard shelters. The phenomenon became increasingly common in Western cities as the neoliberal economic policies of Thatcherism and Reaganism began to bite upon the poor.

1974, The studio flat had come to mean a tiny flat with just one room. In the 1930s it mean a spacious flat with a large window, suitable for an artist.

1953, The term slumlord first used in the USA, although the term slum landlordwas first recorded in 1893. In thye UK the term Rachmanism appeared in 1963, derived from Peter Rachman (1916-62), a London landlord who bought up properties that were cheap because they were rent-controlled under the 1957 Rent Act. He then used blackmail and physical intimidation to evict the tenants, and either resold it at a large profit or installed new tenants not on controlled rents.


Post-War prefabs

1945, Britain faced a housing crisis, with 500,000 homes destroyed by bombing, hardly any new ones built, and a population swelled by one million due to a baby boom. The private rental secttor was inadequate because rents had been frozen, meaning many repairs had not been done. Many repairmen meanwhile were still awaiting demob from the Army. The new pre-fabs had an aluminium frame and asbestos sheets, and could be assembled in 4 hours. They had 2 bedrooms, a small garden, bathroom and separate toilet, and fitted kitchen. Allocation was by need, with families with young children top of the list, also if there was no bathroom or a shared bathroom, in existing accommodation.

30/4/1944, Pre-fabricated steel-framed houses went on show at the Tate Gallery, London. 500,000 of them were planned as temporary housing for those who had lost their homes to Luftwaffe bombs. By the end of the 1940s the Aircraft Industries Research Organisation on Housing (AIROH) could produce one such house every 12 minutes, in four parts, for delivery by flat-bed truck (See also 1967, Nightingale Estate, �taller buildings�, below). All you then needed was to build a base wall to place it on and to wire up the electrics. By 1949 the UK Government had delivered 156,636 such houses, to house many people made homeless by the air raids on London and other cities. For some of these households the pre-fabs gave greater privacy than they had enjoyed before in their East-end accommodation, and now they had a small garden too. They were intended as temporary, with a lifespan or 10-15 years, but some endured into the 21st century.


1933, The British middle classes could no longer afford a live-in servant, and the �daily� appeared, a cleaner who lived off-premises and came in for a few hours a day or week. See also Hygiene, new domestic electrical appliances.

1930, The term �dinette� appeared, for a small dining area off the main living room of a house, Typically this room was only just large enough to accommodate a medium-sized dining table, the chairs, and maybe a sideboard.

1925, The term �flatlet� for a very small flat of just 2 or even 1 rooms was coined. Larger houses were being subdividided into flatlets. Rentals were cheap. At about the same time the �put-u-up� sofa or settee that converyted into a bed appeared as a brand name; later this term became the generic �put-you-up�.

1921, The term �penthouse� came to mean a flat on the roof of a tall building. It had previously meant a lean-to structure at the side of a larger building.

1910, The kitchenette, a small room in a house or flat combining what was formerly the separate kitchen and pantry, came into use.


Suburbanisation, New Towns

29/11/1968, In Britain, Telford new town was designated.

23/1/1967, Milton Keynes was inaugurated as a New Town.

12/1/1967, Plans were announced for a new city at Milton Keynes.

1932, The Green Belt was instituted in Britain, to prevent the growth of huge conurbations. The first one was around London.

1/5/1928. Ebenezer Howard, founder of the New Towns movement, knighted in 1927, of Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City, died in the latter town.

1927, The term �ribbon development� for a single line of houses built along a road leading out of a toiwn or village, came into use; siuch development had become prevalent in the UK after World War One. It was inefficient use of land and was legislated against.

1926, The term �Metroland� came into use, to denote an area of suburbanisation of ther counbtryside in the districts served by London�s Metropolitan Railway northwest of the city.

1918, First usage in Britain of the term �New Town�, for a planned new urban area near an older city.

1904, Fitrst known usage of the term �city centre� (by George Bernard Shaw), as a term for the central part of a city where residential use was uneconomic. It only came into general usage in the 1950s.

1905, First use of the term Garden Suburb, a development from Ebenezer Howard�s Garden City (first used 1898), later Garden Town (from 1915).


Development of very tall buildings

31/12/2004, The world�s tallest skyscraper, Taipei 101, 509 metres or 1.671 feet tall, was opened.

17/10/2003, Taipei 101, at 1,671 feet (509 metres) became the world�s tallest building, surpassing the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur (1,483 feet, 452 metres). The Taipei building cost US$ 1.7 billion to construct. The Sears Tower still hosted the tallest pinnacle, at 1,703 feet, 529 metres, above ground.

1967, The Nightingale Estate was begun in Hackney, east London. It once contained 6 22-storey high tower blocks; three were demolished in 1998. Such estates were a working-classs imitation of the Garden Cities out in Hertfordshoire, with parkland and paths provided. The UK Labour Government elected in 1945 promised to provide housing for all (see 30/4/1944, Pre-fabs, �smaller living spaces� above) but constraints on money ajnd space led to a reduction in the standard of this high rise accommodation, with hallways and other features cut out entirely. Builders like Wimpey were pffered subsidies on blocks over 30 floors high, an incentive to make maximum use of space, They were constructed on a pre-fabricated system of panels, but the collapse of Ronan Point in 1968 cast doubts on this type of accommodation. The area declined with lack of maintenance and a rise in crime in the communal areas. Crime was exacerbated by a lack of social cohesion, itself produced by a lack of communal facilities; for example the Hulme Estate, Manchester, had just one pub for 12,000 residents.

7/12/1961, The London County Council approved the building of 300-foot high blocks of flats at Hammersmith, the tallest in Britain.

1954, The term �high-rise� was introduced for very tall blocks of flats, which, between the 1950s and 1970s, were considered a good way to house less-well-off households. The opposite term, low-rise, came into use form 1957, signifying residential blocls of bewtween 2 and 5 storeys.

1/5/1931. The Empire State Building was opened by President Hoover in New York. 102 storeys and 1,245 feet high, it had a 220 foot TV antenna added in 1950. This total height of 1,472 feet was reduced to 1,454 feet when the antenna was replaced in 1985. In 2001 the world�s tallest building was theTwin Petronas Towers in Malaysia, 1,483 feet high.

25/3/1911, 146 employees died in a major fire at the Triangle shirt factory in Manhattan. It was a multi-storey building. Although the owners were held not liable in aCourt case, the incident caused fire prevention measures to be undertaken in all US factories.

1900, First use of the term �ferro-concrete�; later superseded by reinforced concrete� (term in common usage from 1902), which became a major building material of the 20th century.

21/3/1900, George C. Hale, Chief of the Kansas City Fire Department, demonstrated the first heat sensitive automatic fire alarm system.

1894, The London Building Act limited the height of new buildings to 150 feet (45 metres). No skyscrapers were erected in London for almost 60 years.

15/3/1892. The world�s first �escalator� was installed at Coney Island, New York. This had a continuous sloping surface. It was called the �Reno inclined elevator�.The American inventor Charles A Wheeler patented the first escalator with flat steps on 2/8/1892.

31/3/1889. The 300 metre Eiffel Tower was completed, in time for the Universal Exhibition in Paris, and opened by Premier Tirard on 6/5/1889..Many people said it was ugly.

6/10/1887, Le Corbusier, who promoted the idea of a house as a �machine for living�, was born in Switzerland.

16/7/1867, Joseph Monier of Paris patented reinforced concrete.

1/4/1867. In Paris, the World Fair opened. The first hydraulic lift was demonstrated by the engineer Edoux, and Japanese art was on show in the West for the first time.

8/4/1861, Elisha Graves Otis, American inventor of the first safe elevator in 1852, died in Yonkers, New York.

1860, The floor covering, linoleum, was invented in England by Frederick Walton.

23/8/1859, The first hotel elevator was installed in the 6 storey building of Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York.

1854, Otis, to demonstrate the safety of his lift, had himself hoisted in one and then had the liuft cable cut. As he began to plunge to earth, the safety ratchets engaged and he stepped out unharmed.

23/3/1857, The first passenger lift was installed by Elisha Otis in a department store, in the 5-storey building of E V Haughwout and Co on Broadway, New York. The elevator system cost US$ 300.

20/9/1853, Elisha Graves Otis opened a factory in New York State for the production of the first modern lifts.


25/6/1852, Antoni Gaudi, architect, was born.

16/9/1847, Shakespeare�s birthplace in Stratford on Avon was purchased by the specially-formed Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. This was one of the first buildings acquired purely for preservation.

25/3/1843. The first tunnel under the Thames, the 1300 foot Wapping Tunnel, linking Wapping and Rotherhithe, opened. Work had begun on 2/3/1825.

1842, Engineer John A Roebling invented wire rope. This proved indispensable for constructions such as New York�s Brooklyn Bridge.

1840, In Britain, the Select Committee on the Health of Towns exposed slum conditions in many industrial cities.

24/2/1839, William Otis received a patent for the steam shovel.

15/12/1832, Gustave Eiffel, French engineer who designed the Eiffel Tower, built for the Paris Exhibition of 1889, was born in Dijon.

21/10/1824, Portland Cement was patented by Joseph Aspdin of Wakefield, Yorkshire.

1820, Corrugated iron was invented. One story says that a flat metal sheet guarding a rail-making machinre got loose and was pulled into the machine. When it was extricated, all bent, it was noticed how it was now resistant to bending in a direction perpendicular to the corrugations. The cheap construction of huge sheds, for purposes such as shipbuilding indoors, exhibitions, or for railway stations, now became possible. The problem of rusting was solved by galvanising with zinc. Informal buildings, from frontier miner�s cottages to non-conformist churches, could now be erected easily, also Nissen huts for the military.


21/8/1841, John Hampson of New Orleans, USA, patented the venetian blind.

11/12/1769, In London, venetian blinds were patented by Edward Beran.


1738, The caisson, a device essential for building bridges and underwater tunnels, was developed by Charles Dangeau de Labelye for building a bridge over the Thames at Westminster.

1735, The first machine-made carpets were produced, at Kidderminster.

1350, In Britain, fireplaces were now moving form the centre of the room to the side wall.

1200, The flying buttress was developed to support European Mediaeval churches. The tall roof of a large church would push the walls outwards, collapsing it, without these supports providing a counter-force to the walls.

1189, After a severe fire in the City of Lomdon, King Richard I offered incentives to build in stone. In 1212 London banned thatched roofs in favour of stone tiles, as fire protection.


Architects, planners, landscape gardeners, designers

22/3/2005, Kenzo Tange, architect, died (born 4/9/1913)

11/5/1976, Alvar Aalto, Finnish architect, died aged 78.

17/8/1969, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, architect, died.

5/7/1969, Sir Walter Gropius, architect, founder of the Bauhaus school of design, died.

27/8/1965. The Swiss architect Le Corbusier died.

9/4/1959, Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed New York�s Guggenheim Museum, died aged 89.

27/8/1952, Harvey Corbett, US architect, died in New York City.

18/1/1949, Philippe Starck, architect, was born.

2/3/1947, Frans Johan Louwrens Ghijsels, Dutch architect, died aged 64

22/9/1942, Ralph Adams Cram, US architect, died

12/5/1938, Terry Farrell, architect, was born.

24/7/1937, Terry Quinlan, architect, was born.

7/7/1935, George Keller, Irish-born US architect, died aged 92

23/7/1933. Richard Rogers, architect who designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Lloyds Building in London, was born.

7/8/1929, James Pilditch, designer, was born.

10/6/1926, Spanish architect Gaudi y Cornet died. His most famous building is the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona.

25/6/1925, Robert Venturi, architect, was born.

14/4/1924, Louis Sullivan, US architect, died in Chicago.

19/6/1916, William Francis Cody, US architect, major designer of buildings for Palm Springs, California during the Modern architecture movement, was born in Dayton, Ohio (died 1978)

24/2/1914, Ralph Erskine, architect, was born.

4/9/1913, Kenzo Tange, architect, was born (died 22/3/2005)

7/1/1908, Sir Frederick Gibberd, town planner who designed Harlow New Town, was born (died 1984).He also designed Didcot power station (1968), the Intercontinental Hotel at Hyde Park Corner, London (1975), Liverpool�s Catholic cathedral (1967), and the Regent�s Park Mosque (1977).

21/10/1907, George Bodley, English architect, died in Water Eaton, Oxford (born 1827).

8/7/1906, Philip Johnson, architect, was born in Cleveland, Ohio.

21/1/1905, Christian Dior, French designer, was born in Granville.

16/7/1903, Adalberto Libera, Italian Modernist architect, was born in Trentino (died 1963)

21/5/1902, Marcel Lajos Breuer, architect, was born (died 1981)

11/2/1902, Arne Jacobsen, Danish architect, was born (died 1971)

20/2/1901, Louis Isadore Kahn, architect, was born (died 1974).

23/2/1900, William Butterfield, English architect, died (born 1814).

30/10/1899, Sir Arthur Blomfield, English architect, died (born 6/3/1829).

3/8/1898, Jean Garnier, French architect, died (born 6/11/1825).

11/1/1891, Baron Georges-Eugene Haussman, architect who designed the broad straight boulevards of Paris, died in poverty. These wider roads, built in the 1860s, made troop movements easier and made the building of barricades by revolutionaries more difficult.

25/3/1888, William Nesfield, British architect, died (born 2/4/1835).

27/3/1886, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, architect, was born in Aachen, Germany.

18/5/1883, Walter Adolf Georg Gropius, German architect, was born.

9/11/1880, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, British architect, was born.

24/11/1876, Walter Burley Griffin, architect, was born.

19/4/1874, Owen Jones, British architect, died (born 1809).

8/1/1873, Harvey Corbett, US architect, was born in San Francisco,

10/12/1870, Adolf Loos, architect, was born.

29/3/1869, Sir Edward Lutyens, British architect, was born in London.

7/6/1868, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Scottish architect, was born.

26/9/1867, Charles Fowler, English architect, died (born 26/9/1867)

25/3/1867, Jacques Hittorff, French architect, died (born 20/8/1792).

18/4/1867, John Smirke, who designed the fa�ade of the British Museum, died.

8/6/1865, Sir Joseph Paxton, ornamental gardener and architect who designed the Crystal Palace for the 1851 Great Exhibition, died.

20/10/1860, Walter Cope, US architect, was born in Pennsylvania.

12/5/1860, Sir Charles Barry, architect, died in Clapham, London (born in London 23/5/1795).

20/12/1855, Thomas Cubitt, English builder, died (born 25/2/1788).

10/10/1853, Pierre Fontaine, French architect, died (born 20/9/1762).

14/9/1852, Lord Pugin, co-designer of the Houses of Parliament with Sir Charles Barry, died at Ramsgate.

26/11/1847, Harvey Elmes, British architect, died (born 1813).

24/8/1847, Charles McKim, US architect, was born (died 14/9/1909).

15/4/1844, Charles Bulfinch, US architect, died (born 8/8/1763).

20/1/1837, Sir Robert Soane, architect, died in London. He designed the Bank of England building on Threadneedle Street.

13/5/1835, John Nash, architect of Regents Park and Brighton Pavilion, died on the Isle of Wight. He had been commissioned by King George IV to redevelop parts of London, such as Trafalgar Square and Regent Street.

2/4/1835, William Nesfield, British architect, was born (died 25/3/1888).

14/8/1833, Luigi Cagnola, Italian architect, died (born 9/6/1762).

6/3/1829, Sir Arthur Blomfield, English architect, was born (died 30/10/1899).

6/11/1825, Jean Garnier, French architect, was born (died 3/8/1898).

1821, The designer, Louis Vuitton, was born in Jura, eastern France, to a farming family. At age 13 he walked to Paris and became apprentice to a master trunk maker.

13/7/1811, Sir George Gilbert Scott, architect who designed the Albert Memorial and St Pancras Station, was born.

9/3/1808, Guiseppe Bonomi, English architect, died in London (born in Rome 19/1/1739).

31/8/1801, Sir Joseph Paxton, architect of the Crystal Palace, was born at Milton Bryant near Woburn, Bedfordshire.

23/5/1795, Birth of architect Sir Charles Barry, who designed the Houses of Parliament in London

25/2/1788, Thomas Cubitt, English builder, was born (died 20/12/1855).

6/2/1783. English landscape gardener Lancelot �Capability� Brown died. Kew Gardens and Blenheim Palace are examples of his work.

12/8/1781, Robert Mills, US neoclassical architect, was born in Charleston., South Carolina (died 1855)

9/7/1764, Louis Baltard, French architect, was born in Paris (died in Paris 13/1/1874).

8/8/1763, Charles Bulfinch, US architect, was born (died 15/4/1844).

20/9/1762, Pierre Fontaine, French architect, was born (died 10/10/1853).

9/6/1762, Luigi Cagnola, Italian architect, was born (died 14/8/1833).

10/9/1753. Birth of architect Sir John Soane. He was born at Goring, near Reading, the son of a mason, and in 1788 he became architect and surveyor to the Bank of England. The new exterior he created for the Bank was regarded as his most famous work. In 1806 he became Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy; he was knighted in 1831. His home at 13 Lincoln�s Inn Fields, which he designed, was the setting for his art and antiques collection. He lived there alone after his wife died in 1815; it is now the John Soane Museum. He also designed the Dulwich College Picture Gallery in south London.

19/1/1739, Guiseppe Bonomi, English architect, was born in Rome (died in London 9/3/1808).

17/1/1738, German architect, Matthaus Poppelman, died aged 74.

25/3/1736, Nicholas Hawksmoor, Emglish architect, pupil of Christopher Wren, died (born 1661).

17/1/1736, German architect MatthausPoppelman died, aged 74.

26/3/1726, Sir John Vanbrugh, English playwright and architect of Blenheim Palace, Castle Howard, and many other stately homes, died of quinsy.

5/4/1723, Austrian architect JB Fischer von Erlach died aged 66.

25/2/1723, Sir Christopher Wren, architect, born 20/10/1632 in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, died aged 91, in London. His works included St Paul�s Cathedral (see 22/6/1675) and Chelsea Hospital. He was buried in the crypt of St Pauls Cathedral.

26/3/1721, Nicolas le Camus, French architect, was born (died 27/7/1789).

21/6/1652. The architect, Inigo Jones, died. He had designed the Queen�s House at Greenwich and the Banqueting Hall at Whitehall. He also laid out Lincoln�s Inn Fields and Covent Garden.

16/4/1646, Birth of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, French court architect to King Louis XIV who designed the Hall of Mirrors and the Orangery at Versailles.

20/10/1632, Christopher Wren, English astronomer and architect, designer of St Paul�s Cathedral, was born in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, the son of a dean.

15/7/1573, Architect Inigo Jones was born in London.He was the son of a clothmaker.

7/71573, Giacomo Barocchio, Italian architect, died in Rome (born in Vignola 1/10/1507).

8/1/1570, Philibert Delorme, French architect, died.

30/11/1518, Andrea Palladio, Italian architect, was born.

11/3/1514, Lazzari Bramante, Italian painter and architect, died.

1/10/1507, Giacomo Barocchio, Italian architect, was born in Vignola (died in Rome 7/71573).

25/4/1472, Leon Battista Alberti, Italoian architect, died in Rome.

26/4/1452, Leonardo Da Vinci, Italian painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, scientist, and inventor, was born into The Renaissance.

1212, Thatched roofs were banned in London because of the fire risk. Stone tiles were to be used instead.


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