Sir Christopher Wren (1632 - 1723), was one of England’s most highly acclaimed architects and scientists. Wren began his architectural career in the 17th century; he attained his Master’s degree in 1651 from Wadham College, Oxford, where he studied astronomy, physics and anatomy. Coming from a purely scientific background, Wren began to develop a taste for architecture and design after completing his studies. By 1663 Wren launched into his first year of architectural design, in which he created the classic Roman theatre of Marcellus.
Wren received no formal training in architecture. His knowledge was self-taught through studying Italian and French treatises and pattern books (i.e. Vitruvius). He studied the relationships between natural laws, scientific laws and artistic design. Wren was known to make designs that combined strength, convenience and beauty, as he viewed architecture as a branch of applied mathematics and art.
In 1666 Wren proposed a restructuring of St.Paul’s Cathedral. Ironically, 6 days after the proposal was approved the entire structure was destroyed by the Great Fire of London. The Great Fire also destroyed much of London’s main town buildings. Wren saw this as an opportunity to redesign London, and thus he proposed a rebuilding of the entire city of London.
Wren had visions of classical lines and broad tree-lined avenues cutting through twisting streets and alleys. Wren’s proposal was seen as too drastic and was rejected shortly after it was proposed. However; he helped to redesign 51 churches over 46 years in London. He was also involved in designing the library at Trinity College, the Royal Hospital at Chelsea, and in the remodelling of Kensington Palace.
Wren is most known for his St.Paul’s masterpiece, completed in 1710. Wren submitted several proposals before a final, and fifth design, was accepted. This Gothic work of art was distinguished by huge dome-structures and by many intricate designs and elaborate details. Wren is regarded as the most influential British architect.