Happy birthday Sir John Soane!

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Sir John Soane (September 10, 1753—January 20, 1837) was an English neo-classical architect. He is best remembered for his design of the Bank of England, which still stands to this day, while many of his other works have been altered for destroyed.

 

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Soane was born in Whitchurch, Oxfordshire, England. When he was young, he became the errand boy of architect George Dance. After earning the Royal Academy silver and gold medals for his drawings.

He earned a travelling scholarship, so in 1777, he left for Italy. He remained there for three years, studying ruins and creating designs for public buildings.

By 1780, Soane returned to England. After building many country houses, he was appointed to design the Bank of England, his biggest project to date. He designed it in the Roman Corinthian style, and it is the only of his works that still remains as it originally was.

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Another important work by Soane was a large brewery complex and housing quarters for entrepreneur William Blackall Simonds.

Soane went on to take on several prominent roles, including clerk of the works at the House of Parliament, St. James's Palace, and Chelsea Hospital. He was also appointed superintendent of works to the fraternity of freemasons. He became a fellow and member of many high-profile societies, and by 1831, was knighted.

Some of his other designs include the National Debt Redemption Office in Old Jewry,

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the Royal gallery and library at the House of Lords, the law courts at Westminster, the privy council and board of trade offices in Whitehall, and the state paper office at Westminster. His designs are notable for their innovative use of light and shadow to create unusual spaces.

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Moggerhanger House

 

He spent his later years as a professor, collecting many books of designs and historical objects for his students to study. He put all of his collections on display at his house at Lincoln's Inn Fields, which he later turned into a museum. The museum still stands and has recently become a popular tourist attraction.

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Soane Museum

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Soane's museum still impresses architecture aficionados. Architecture historian Dan Cruickshank said of the Soane museum: "It's just tremendous – utterly individual and peculiar. It was shocking and inspirational. It is architecture of the highest genius. He reinvented the language of classical architecture. It was so radical that the district surveyor tried to sue him."

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Statue of Sir John Soane at the Bank of England, London

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Wednesday, 10 September 2014
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