Royal College of Physicians Salutes a Summer of Architecture

Copy Exterior RCP London

Copy Exterior RCP LondonDuring 2018 the Royal College of Physicians Museum of London will be celebrating 500 years of medicine with a season of events taking place June 07 – July 07, 2018.  

During the period, their landmark classical modernist building will be, for the first time, part of the London Festival of Architecture, June 1 to June 30, 2018. With excellent exhibitions, fabulous family events, walking tours, podcasts, a design competition and debates, there will be something for everyone to see and do.

RCP Museum historical collections have been gathered over 5 centuries since founded by a Royal Charter of Henry VIII in 1518.  There are splendid portraits and silver, medical collections, seventeenth century human remains and rare book collections, all of which are apart of their award winning exhibitions and events.

Sir Denys Lasdun architect of the Royal College of Physicians and the National Theatre on South Bank London, 1997

Sir Denys Lasdun architect of the Royal College of Physicians and the National Theatre on South Bank London, 1997

Modernist architect and designer Sir Denys Lasdun (1914-2001) was an eminent English Architect in the twentieth century. The son of an engineer, his Grade I listed building masterpiece for the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) perfectly captured the importance of scale, perspective and light.

Today it is an integral part of London’s rich and significant architectural heritage in the built environment, both inside and out, where there are free building, garden and medical history tours always available, alongside special events and exhibitions. The museum will also be opening late on the first Thursday of the month throughout 2018. Entry is free – Select a Date

Copy Interior RCP LondonThe Royal College of Physicians Museum sits happily amidst the classically formatted terraces of King George IV’s most favoured architect, Sir John Nash (1732-1835). Denys Lasdun while being a thoroughly modern man, also embraced the ideas behind the timeless quality of classical architecture, whose roots are in antiquity.

Lasdun it was reported, spent a great deal of time researching before he began to design it, talking to interested parties about what was to their mind, required. The building displays wonderful confidence in execution, with an emphasis on structure, form and style as was the way with a new way of thinking during the early twentieth century, when an importance on a building’s function was being highlighted.

Copy Interior RCP London 4For the new ‘international style’ during his age an importance was placed on asymmetry, cube and cylindrical shapes, flat roofs, reinforced concrete, metal and glass frameworks, large windows and a horizontal emphasis, with an absence of ornament and mouldings. There was also a tendency towards purity, with white and cream becoming the predominating preference for buildings both inside and out.

His style had gradually emerged based on wide ranging archeological and academic research that revealed modernism has a paradoxical link; a strong desire for renewal of our built environment and an admiration for what had been achieved in times past.

Denys Lasdun had grown up in an atmosphere of art, music and musicians while being educated at the Rugby School. Because of his experiences he would have well understood what proportion, scale and harmony in architecture meant through the ages, as well as what toughness was required to succeed in the architectural profession.

Copy Staircase Detail RCP LondonA student at the Architectural Association during the 1930s, Denys Lasdun became an admirer of Swiss born French modernist architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965). After gaining extensive experience in his field, he also became highly skilled in the use of concrete.

When he married in 1954, along with his wife he spent his honeymoon visiting classically inspired modern buildings with an emphasis on purity of form and refinement in America.

His commission post war for the Royal College of Physicians produced a building described as having ‘grace, dignity and charm’, one that adheres to the idea ‘all art and design is modern at the time it is made’, explained by Cennino Cennini in his Il Libro dell’Arte (“The Craftsman’s Handbook”) of 1437.

Copy Interior RCP London 2He believed “Every building has, at its heart, a generating idea, which must express itself through every part and in every detail.”

In his design he paid careful attention to function, including the ceremonial and social aspects of the life of RCP members.

In 1992 Denys Lasdun was awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Trustees Medal in recognition of his work at the RCP, considered to be ‘the best architecture of its time anywhere in the world’.

RCP London copyFrom Castles in the Air to the Bold and the Beautiful as part of the London Festival of Architecture Program or taking exploring and moving through architecture as is the modernist vision as part of the RCP Summer of Architecture Program, you will be sure to expand your knowledge of the world around you today.

Either a resident or a visitor in London this summer – be sure to explore your options and make your bookings well in advance.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018

Royal College of Physicians

A Summer of Architecture

Program | Bookings

Current Exhibition
Ceaseless motion: William Harvey’s experiments in circulation

Save the date:
Open House London
Saturday 22 September 2018, 10am-5pm
FREE: Booking opens July 2018

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