This Map Colour Codes London's Buildings Based On Their Age

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 15 months ago
This Map Colour Codes London's Buildings Based On Their Age

Love London History? Join our Facebook group, Londonist Memory Machine.

A new online map colour codes London's buildings based on their age.

Colouring London divides London up into 20-year long age brackets, the oldest of which is 1660-1680 and the most recent >2000.

It also collects data on any given building's uses, number of storeys, sustainability (the energy rating) and whether it's on a heritage list or in a conservation area. Users can even 'like' the building and judge whether they think it's an asset to the community. There are plenty of other categories planned as the program grows — it's aiming for 50.

The map continues the legacy of London's colour maps. Most famously Charles Booth 'coloured in' London for his poverty map. Post-war maps shaded in buildings based on bomb damage, but this trend ceased in the post-war period.

A visualisation of the amounts of storeys in buildings

At the moment the borough of Camden is by far the best fleshed out on Colouring London — the project is based at UCL's Bartlett Centre of Advanced Spatial Analysis in the borough, which explains the bias.

Large swathes of the map remain blank; that's where you come in. If you have info about a non-coloured building, you can add it to the map. The platform is meant for knowledge sharing among citizens, that aims to improve the city.

But how can a map like this improve the city? Polly Hudson, the Colouring London project leader puts it best:

Colouring London is designed to increase transparency in the planning system by placing instant, free, and easily comprehensible information on London's buildings in the hands of communities, as well as the broad spectrum of professions and interest groups in the built environment.

Data visualisations will provide a free educational resource for residents and schools, and celebrate the richness and diversity of the capital's buildings and of our collective knowledge of the present and past.

Even if you're not planning on using the map for such serious endeavours, it's enjoyable to scroll around and look for architecturally diverse — at least in terms of when buildings were constructed — streets in London. Like Southampton Row, where structures from 1968, 1820, 1902 and 1680 stand in a row, while just opposite is the living wall on Synergy House, built in 2015.

Last Updated 19 February 2021