clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Enduring Spectacle of Striped Buildings, A History

There has been quite a hullaballoo in London's Kensington area, after a certain multi-million-pound townhouse debuted a new candy-striped facade. The striking makeover, which came after neighbors rejected a proposal to raze the building and erect a new structure with a two-story basement (iceberg home alert!), unsurprisingly incited further complaints from residents. The commotion seems to be winding down, as a local council has already ordered the owner of the townhouse to get rid of the stripes. But folks at the Architectural Review have taken this opportunity to retrace the history of striped buildings, which, as it turns out, have surprisingly noble origins.

As the Architectural Review explains, striped buildings are most commonly associated with the medieval churches of northern and central Italy. These early examples then inspired the "polychrome banded masonry of Victorian architecture" —i.e. the All Saints, Margaret Street church in London (↓)—as well as Postmodern architecture — i.e. Mario Botta's Church of San Giovanni Battista in Switzerland (↓).

A prominent example of stripes used in domestic buildings is Madonna's former Hollywood Hills home, which includes a perimeter wall covered in red and cream bands(↓). Like the candy-striped Kensington house, Madonna's daring house also attracted contempt from the neighbors, but it nonetheless created a curious sight. "[Stripes] draw attention through their prominence in our visual field, and entertain the eye with their shifting patterns, combinations of colour and ocular effects," writes Ashley Paine at the Architectural Review. Head here for whole story.

· The curious history of striped architecture [The Architectural Review]
· Alas, No More Tricked-Out Basements for London Billionaires [Curbed National]
· More Proof That London's 'Iceberg Homes' Are Out of Control [Curbed National]