Cutting Through London

A new project dubbed Cutaway London has exposed the inner workings of some of London’s most famous landmarks in a series of cross-section pictures, highlighting that the architecture within a building is just as intricate and exciting as the silhouette on the skyline.

The project was created by Neomam Studios, a creative content studio, who partnered with QuickQuid of all people!

“Our focus is to bring something positive to the table, something beautiful and awe-inspiring that will spark Britons’ curiosity, encouraging them to experience London through the eyes of a tourist.”

Big Ben - Cutaway London
Big Ben – Cutaway London

Here we see the famous Big Ben, or what it’s actually called, the Elizabeth Tower (the clock itself is Big Ben), scythed in half exposing the inside of the landmark. Currently covered in rather unattractive scaffolding, the 11 floored structure is host to a series of unusual features.

It has a prison in it, specifically for badly behaved MPs in the Houses of Parliament, which ironically hasn’t had an inmate since MP Charles Bradlaugh in 1880. Not policed particularly strictly then.

In addition to the prison, there is the Ayrton Light that sits above the clock face, which comes on when parliament is in session, a mini museum and a store room.


The Barbican - Cutaway London
The Barbican – Cutaway London

One of London’s most famous performing arts venues, the Barbican, is one of the last remaining true celebrations of brutalist architecture, and it’s chopping up reveals the venue as a whole like never before.

You may have been there for a show at some point, but you won’t be able to see it like this.

Packed inside of 200,000m² of concrete is one vast performance room, coupled with a few smaller ones and also a cinema.

The whole venue sits mostly below ground level, submerged like a ship.


Another pretty iconic venue in the capital, here we have the O2 Arena. Most people have been to the giant bubble sat right next to the meander in the River Thames, but with this picture we’re taken backstage to the inner workings which run behind the gigs.

It is true however that the 02 was never intended to be a permament feature, rather a pop-up style venue for an exhibition, but it was repurposed into a music venue in the 2000s.

There are also several very clever architectural features hidden within it too. Utilising the shape, the rainwater that rolls off the roof is collected and used to flush the venue’s toilets.

The super-thin glass fibre fabric which consitutes the bubble is pinned to supporting cables by over 20,000 clamps to ensure it doesn’t just blow over like most of the tents we’re used to.

It is in fact the world’s busiest music arena, and the planet’s largest supported dome! The 100-metre masts that hold it up are actually what disqualify the structure from being a true dome in architectural terms.


Ah the giant pickle, or the Gherkin rather, or the rocket ship…whatever the name you choose, it’s probably most famous for the dramatic close ups on The Apprentice with Sergei Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knights playing behind it.

But alas, it was designed by architecture giant Norman Foster and was completed towards the end of 2003.

Not as glamourous as the other few, it’s mostly made up of offices for insurance brokers, as the photo reveals the twisting steel covering the thousands of studious workers behind.

Proud of his efforts to make his buildings as sustainable as possible, the Gherkin is another example of such efforts. Exposed shafts under each floor expel hot air from the building in the summer, and utilise the sun’s heat and light in the winter, so that the building uses half the energy of similarly-sized buildings.

However, if you want to experience London from the Gherkin and you don’t fancy a career in insurance brokering…fear not! There is a restaurant in the top levels that offer 360 views over the city.


The Royal Opera House, sat on Bow Street, has had it’s fair share of revamps and rebuilds. The current building is in fact the third structure opening in May 1858, after the other two burned down in fires.

Whilst we wonder what secret rooms and crafty inventions lie behind the magic of the performance, the cross-section does in fact show that there is not actually all that much behind the scenes with this building, designed purely for the purpose of putting on a great show.


The tube is a never ending maze of layers upon layers of incredible engineering, highlighted here. Quite how the original architects navigated their way through London’s undergrowth, dodging all the water pipes, electricals and rats is a slightly mind-boggling feat, but it’s made all very transparent in this shot.

Kings Cross Station is one of the busiest hubs in the country, with tube lines, national rail lines, trams, buses…it’s all here!

The new steel and glass Western Concourse you can see was part of a £500m redevelopment ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

“its epic roof rises up a great steel stalk in the centre and then spreads into a tree-like canopy of intersecting branches, before descending into a ring of supports at the circumference. In so doing, it avoids the need to drop columns into the ticket hall of the underground station underneath the main space”

Rowan Moore, The Observer

Now this one is intriguing. The innerds of Downing Street are probably envisioned in most people’s minds through the infamous scene of Hugh Grant dancing in his socks in Love Actually.

10 Downing Street is actually comprised of three separate 17th century buildings which have since been connected. So large it’s home to a total of 100 separate rooms! The optical illusion on the outside was probably intended to avoid a revolution!

“The scene of hundreds of years of top-level decision-making, it is also the product of hundreds of years of incremental adaptations, repairs and restorations,” writes one of the building’s biographers, “…much about No. 10 is the product of historical chance, rather than design.”

2019-08-06T17:37:56+00:00