Picturing London

Architects' visions: Parliament Square

One of Wornum’s designs for the re-planning of Parliament Square

One of Wornum's designs for the re-planning of Parliament Square, 1949
Pencil on photograph
Designer: Burnet Tait & Lorne and George Grey Wornum
© RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections


This photograph has been altered to depict how the existing conditions of Parliament
would be improved by Grey Wornum's redesign and Burnet, Tait and Lorne's design(shown in pencil) for a new Colonial Office in Broad Sanctuary. With its position next to buildings of great historical pedigree and at the centre of British government, Wornum had a difficult job on his hands. He needed to demonstrate that his scheme would enhance the square. Wornum wanted to show the politicians and residents of Parliament Square an exacting reality over any romantic, picturesque illustration.

To do this, Wornum adapted a series of photographs showing perspectives of the new square. He added bold pencil lines and overlaid multiple photographs, an exercise in image manipulation in the pre-digital era. The dome of the Central Hall reigns supreme over the boxy outline of the proposed Colonial Office, while pedestrians enjoy the large, uncrowded pavements and lawns. These renderings of a future London are as realistic as any Wornum could provide and became reality in 1950, while Burnet, Tait and Lorne's design was abandoned in 1952.  


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