John Nash’s Iconic Architecture
February 12, 2019|Architecture
- he legacy of the esteemed regency architect, John Nash, can still be observed in the architectural fabric of our capital. From the sweeping grandeur of Regent’s Street to the elegant stuccoed façades of The Park Crescent, Nash left an indelible mark on London. A master of diverse architectural styles, Nash’s repertoire spanned everything from neo-Classical Gothicism to Italianate features, but it was his white stuccoed villas which established him as a one of the most influential architects of the 18th and 19th century. In 2019, over 200 years since the height of his fame, a Nash address is still highly sought after for those looking to purchase a unique slice of British history.
Nash was born in 1752 to a millwright. By the age of 14 he enrolled on a 10 year apprenticeship under the Palladian architect Sir Robert Thomas, graduating as a surveyor and builder in the City of London. By 1777, he had established his own architectural practice and set about building some of London’s first stucco-clad houses in Bloomsbury. These early business ventures proved unsuccessful and in 1783 he was declared bankrupt. He returned to his native Wales rebuilding his professional reputation through a provincial practice constructing prisons, bridges, market halls and rural villas.
This period proved to be formative one, bringing him into contact with the three leaders of the ‘Picturesque’ movement including the acclaimed landscape designer, Humphrey Repton. Together, they forged a highly successful reputation as designers of elegant villas and country seats. Repton and Nash cultivated a style which reacted against the earlier 18th century trend for Neoclassicism with its emphasis on proportion, formality and order. Instead the Picturesque placed value on irregularity and asymmetry, striving to create a harmonious relationship between architecture and its surrounding landscape. Nash went on to become a leading proponent of this movement, which was a direct reflection of his eclectic style, borrowing diverse architectural elements from different eras and cultures.
Nash’s triumphant return to London in 1797 marked an upwards trajectory in his career. With a clientele comprised of bankers, merchants and landed gentry, Nash enjoyed a period of prosperity. However, his most treasured client of all was the Prince Regent. It was under his patronage that Nash realised some of his most ambitious projects. This included Brighton’s extravagant Royal Pavilion. Inspired by the Mughal Empire, the architecture is characteristic of the excesses of the Regency era with its exquisite minarets and onion domes. Another of Nash’s celebrated accomplishments was the transformation of Henry VIII’s former hunting ground, Marylebone Park, to elegant Regent’s Park as we know it today. The palatial terraces, graceful crescent of housing and Italian-inspired gardens are all testament to his skill as a designer.
We love Nash architecture, and have designed three luxury residences that line the fringes of Regent’s Park. Our most recent project, set over six stunning floors, is an exquisite Grade I listed Nash townhouse on Park Square West. We designed this family home to present the perfect mix of classic and contemporary style, showcasing the building’s beauty whilst breathing new life into its splendid proportions.
We also designed two duplex apartments on The Park Crescent which combine Nash’s classical façade with contemporary comfort and modern conveniences. When designing the interior, the architectural features such as the grand ceilings and full-height windows were carefully considered. Swags and tails create a statement feature of the windows that look out onto Nash’s majestic park. The overall effect is timelessly elegant.
The prestige associated with properties designed by Nash has seen Regency residences command high prices. As Giles Elliott of Savills articulates “the elegant terraces and villas that Nash designed remain in demand with buyers around the world, and some of the most significant sales in London have been Nash properties in Regent’s Park. The detached villas on Regents Park sell [for] upwards of £50 million and prices per square foot range from £3,750 to £5,000.” Likewise, a six bedroom Nash residence on Hanover Terrace is on sale for £21.5 million, whilst other properties on Cornwall, Chester and Cumberland Terraces start at £13 million, reflecting the heritage and inherent beauty of the buildings.
Nash’s extensive contribution to British architecture lives on through the English Heritage’s Blue Plaque scheme. Commemorating Nash’s first major London development, the plaque hangs on a stuccoed terrace opposite the British Museum, paying homage to a true visionary thinker with timeless appeal.
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