London-born English architect, designer of landscapes, and town-planner. He laid out the Montpellier (1825–30) and Lansdowne (1825–8) Estates in Cheltenham, Glos, and was one of the most prolific architects of his generation as well as a designer of a wide range of artefacts, including furniture, textiles, fireplaces, and much else.
The second son of John Papworth (1750–99), a master stuccoer, he worked in John Plaw's office for two years, exhibited beautiful drawings and water-colours at the Royal Academy from 1794, and was a promoter of new ideas and technologies. By 1800 he had his own practice (largely concerned with domestic architecture), was able to take on pupils, and began to write and produce designs for publication. In 1815 his drawing of a Tropheum to celebrate Wellington and Blücher's victory at Waterloo caused him to be acclaimed by his circle as a second Michelangelo, and he modestly took ‘Buonarotti’ as his second name.
He designed conservatories, entrance-gates, coach-houses, stables, and the Gothic summer-house at Claremont, Surrey (1816), for Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg (1795–1865) and later (from 1831) king of the Belgians) and Princess Charlotte Augusta (1796–1817). The latter's untimely death caused the summer-house to be adapted as her memorial. From 1817 to 1820 he prepared designs for the Park and Palace at Bad Cannstadt, near Stuttgart, for King Wilhelm I (1816–64): only part of the Park (in the English style) was realized, but Papworth was honoured with the title of ‘Architect to the King of Württemberg’. He designed (1819) the famous Egyptian Revival gallery in P. F. Robinson's Egyptian Halls, Piccadilly, London (1811–12—demolished). For William Bullock (fl.c. 1795–1826), builder and owner of the Egyptian Halls, he designed (1825–7) a model new town intended to be built on the bank of the River Ohio facing Cincinnati: named Hygeia, it never materialized. Papworth was responsible for many London shop-fronts and other buildings, and was a pioneer in the use of iron for construction purposes. His monument to Lieutenent-Colonel Sir Alexander Gordon (1786–1815) on the field at Waterloo, Belgium (1815), was an early (if not the first) example of a broken column used as a memorial. He directed the Government School of Design (1836–7), and was a founder (1834) of the Institute of British Architects.
He contributed frequently to Rudolph Ackermann's (1764–1834) Repository of Arts (1809–28). Papers, entitled Architectural Hints (1813, 1814, 1816, and 1817), were republished as Rural Residences, consisting of a Series of Designs for Cottages, Small Villas, and other Ornamental Buildings (1818 and 1832), and in 1823 he published designs for garden-buildings as Hints on Ornamental Gardening. Rural Residences was far more influential than most commentators have suggested: it appears to have been a stimulant for designs by Schinkel and Persius, notably the Court Gardener's House and Roman Bath complex at Potsdam (1829–37) and the Gothic Hunting Lodge at the park at Glienecke (1827–8). In fact, he helped to create the rational Greek style that was so ubiquitous in the period 1815–40, yet his importance has not received the recognition it deserves. Papworth helped (1818–19) William Henry Pyne (1769–1843) with the descriptions of Marlborough House, St James's, and Kensington Palace, published as Royal Residences (1820), contributed to Britton and Pugin's Public Buildings in London (1825–8), and edited the fourth edition of Chambers's Treatise (1826), adding much new material; he also wrote the important Essay on the Causes of Dry Rot in Timber (1803). Many designs in Loudon's Encyclopaedia (1833) appear to have originated with Papworth.