Leicester is not the first place you think of when it comes to architecture. Most people if asked about cities with stunning architecture would say Paris, Venice or Amsterdam, among others. But whilst not renowned for its architectural beauty, there are plenty of beautiful buildings right on our doorstep. From the oldest, the Guildhall, to the one of the newest, the Curve Theatre, there is a vast range of exquisite architecture within the walls of the city.
The Guildhall started out life around 1390 AD. This is when the main hall of the building was built.The rest of the building was added on later, in the 15th century.
From first inspection, the Guildhall does not seem over 600 years old. The façade of the building is in good condition and whilst is different from the buildings around it, it blends in rather well. This is mainly down to its restoration in the 1920’s. The building’s old-style wooden beam and wattle and daub façade may split opinion, but it is a great example of the picturesque beauty that many older buildings have. One quirky fact about the Guildhall is that it has featured on some television programmes, including Most Haunted, because of the various ghost sightings reported within the building. If you are interested in the Guildhall, I would thoroughly recommend visiting, due to it only being about 200 yards from the university campus.
If you aren’t interested in this older style, then this next building may be for you. The Curve theatre was completed only 5 years ago and is a prime example of modern architecture. It features a 32 tonne steel exterior, which when lifted, allows the stage to be visible from street level. This is also down to the mostly glass façade. Despite being made from steel and glass, the façade has a very simplistic feel, which sits very well with the surrounding buildings on Rutland Street. However, this is no 32 tonne monstrosity, as the name suggests. The building is curved to make it more natural and to separate it from office blocks. There will be no mistaking this building for one much older; this also means that it won’t have the same fake, plastic feel that some modern buildings have when they try to look old. Instead, it has a much calmer, relaxed and open feel, which suits the purpose of this building, a theatre.
These two buildings are very different in many ways; their age, materials, size and many other aspects. But, they do have something in common. They are both part of the rich architectural forest that Leicester has and that has seemed to have gone unnoticed within the wider architectural community. From the small scale road works on Eastern Boulevard, to the larger scale plans to demolish New Walk Centre, this architectural forest is forever changing, with plans being started and completed every day, to make this city look different every time you look at it.