What 6 British Cities Could Have Looked Like

Unbuilt London. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam Unbuilt London. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam

A historic hotbed of architectural styles and a current architectural capital of the world, cities in the United Kingdom are awash with iconic buildings from the Georgian, Neoclassical, and contemporary era. Such buildings, from the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol to the Southbank in London, have come to define the cities in which they stand, drawing the eyes of tourists and designers alike from around the world.

It is therefore an interesting exercise to examine what these cities would look like if such structures didn’t exist. To this end, Neomam Studios has partnered with QuickQuid to produce a series of images demonstrating what six British cities could have looked like, resurrecting some of Britain’s most surprising unbuilt structures.

The collaboration follows on from similar previous endeavors by Neomam, who recently speculated on what New York’s Central Park could have looked like, and how six ruined British castles would look today had they stood the test of time.

We have republished the images below with an edited description by QuickQuid. For more detail on the buildings, as well as references for their creation, visit the official website here.

London

Unbuilt London. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam Unbuilt London. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam
Built London. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam Built London. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam

QuickQuid: The Royal Festival Hall is a relatively conservative construction, but only because the chosen design pipped a more imposing Brutalist blueprint in a competition to commemorate the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Sir Misha Black and Hilton Wright’s design would have dominated both the riverbank and the skyline, its imposing glazed spiral ramp leading to a 1500-ft high viewing platform across the city.

Liverpool

Unbuilt Liverpool. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam Unbuilt Liverpool. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam
Built Liverpool. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam Built Liverpool. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam

QuickQuid: Visitors to Liverpool today can’t fail to notice “Paddy’s Wigwam,” the tent shaped Catholic Cathedral at the opposite end of Hope Street from the giant Church of England Cathedral.

But believe it or not, the design could have been even more bizarre. C.H.R. Bailey’s entry to the 1959 competition for Liverpool’s new cathedral looks like it was ripped from the film set of sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet, released just three years previously.

Bristol

Unbuilt Bristol. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam Unbuilt Bristol. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam
Built Bristol. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam Built Bristol. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam

QuickQuid: In 1864, Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge finally opened after 110 years of struggle. Bristol’s famous landmark could have looked very different.

The idea for a bridge first came about after the 1754 death of a local wine merchant, who bequeathed a small sum towards its construction. After violent riots against a toll on Bristol’s existing bridge in 1793, architect William Bridges unveiled a proposal for an overpass that would pay for itself.

Manchester

Unbuilt Manchester. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam Unbuilt Manchester. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam
Built Manchester. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam Built Manchester. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam

QuickQuid: The architecture of Piccadilly Gardens has long been a site of controversy for the people of Manchester. But few realize it could have been settled once and for all with the construction of an art gallery on the spot back in the 1930s.

After the First World War, the council voted for the area – which had been a temporary infirmary for returning soldiers – to be partially put aside for a new gallery and library. While the gardens were re-landscaped, a competition was held, with the forerunning gallery design provided by 29-year-old E. Berry Webber.

Newcastle

Unbuilt Newcastle. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam Unbuilt Newcastle. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam
Built Newcastle. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam Built Newcastle. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam

QuickQuid: The 1960s was a swinging period for architecture, with new ideas, materials, and economic confidence rejuvenating the industry. All the same, Newcastle may seem an odd place to have become a ‘city in the sky’ – but it nearly happened.

In an effort to separate pedestrians from the modern blight of ubiquitous automobiles, Newcastle’s city planners looked up. Designs were drawn and work began on a system of overhead walkways between raised buildings. Searching for a modern equivalent, expert Professor Stephen Graham suggests that Hong Kong is one of the closest real-life ‘3D’ cities to use every dimension as Newcastle nearly did.

Edinburgh

Unbuilt Edinburgh. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam Unbuilt Edinburgh. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam
Built Edinburgh. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam Built Edinburgh. Image © QuickQuid / Neomam

QuickQuid: Everyone is familiar with the way Edinburgh Castle peers down on the majestic city as it has, in many forms, for over 1,000 years.

David Bryce’s 1862 sketch for a Memorial Keep in honor of Prince Albert would have been a major change to the city’s skyline. But Queen Victoria, Albert’s widow, disapproved of the construction, and the tower was never erected.