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Explore a thousand years of British architecture with this online exhibition, How We Built Britain, brought to you by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in association with the BBC.


From the castles of the Norman invaders to the towers of Canary Wharf, Britain’s buildings tell the ever-changing story of its island people and their ways of life. Selected here are key buildings from all periods, regions and architectural styles, many of which are featured in David Dimbleby’s landmark BBC series ‘How We Built Britain’.


Encounter the wonder of medieval cathedrals, Tudor prodigy houses, Georgian model villages, Scottish baronial castles, Victorian viaducts and sixties’ tower blocks. Follow the social, political and economic trends that have shaped the unique appearance of Britain’s cities, towns and countryside.


This exhibition of photographs, drawings, books, models and manuscripts are all from the RIBA British Architectural Library. Assembled since 1834, this is one of the world’s finest collections relating to architecture and our built heritage, totalling some four million items. So why not join us for a tour around a fascinating cross-section of Britain's buildings?



David Dimbleby

 "Travelling around the country to make 'How We Built Britain' I visited many buildings, from the humblest to the grandest. You can discover more about this rich heritage through the unique images of the RIBA British Architectural Library."

David Dimbleby

The book to accompany the series is available from RIBA Bookshops


Explore the online exhibition


Location map

Explore the buildings and places in the exhibition by location.


Historical periods

Rycote Chapel interior

Explore the buildings and places in the exhibition by historical period.




Browse the glossary of terms used in the exhibition.


Building Britain and our collections
RIBA 66 Portland Place staircase

Find out more about the RIBA British Architectural Library's collections of photographs, drawings, archives and books.



Saltdean Lido

Explore RIBApix, a growing database dedicated to providing you with exceptional and unique images from the RIBA British Architectural Library's collections.

‘How we Built Britain’ is a major collaboration with the BBC




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