The world-famous Waterhouse building is a London landmark and a work of art. This beautiful building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, a young architect from Liverpool. He won the contract after the original architect died.
When you arrive, pause to take in the huge façade and high, spired towers. The rounded arches and grand entrance were inspired by basalt columns at Fingal's Cave in western Scotland. This is one of Britain’s most striking examples of Romanesque architecture.
The huge, imposing Hintze Hall (formerly the Central Hall) leads to a grand staircase, which rises to the second floor of galleries. Up above, you’ll see glass and bare iron. This was purposely left exposed by Waterhouse to show the beauty of the building materials.
Remember to look upwards to the plants and animals depicted on the intricately painted ceiling of Hintze Hall (formerly the Central Hall). The hall ceiling alone has 162 individual panels covered with plant paintings.
Terracotta tiles provide decoration inside and outside the building. Many feature relief carvings of plants and animals. The buff and cobalt-blue terracotta is both attractive and practical, as a hardy material that could resist the acid smogs of Victorian London.
In his design, Alfred Waterhouse included elaborate sculptures of plants and animals on the interior and exterior of the building, to represent biological diversity. Those on the western wing are of living forms, while those on the eastern side show extinct creatures.