The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Twentieth Century Society stands alone in fight to save Royal College of Art

The Royal College of Art is seeking planning permission and listed building consent for a new building by Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners, which will demolish part of its Grade II listed complex on Kensington Gore.

The Twentieth Century Society is objecting to the proposal which would completely obscure the east elevation of the Darwin Building, the most conspicuous part of the listed building of 1962, and also ruin the crucial spatial relationship carefully planned by the original architect between the College, the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal College of Organists and Norman Shaw’s Albert Hall Mansions. Although English Heritage and the City of Westminster have endorsed the proposals, the Twentieth Century Society believes that beyond being an undesirable alteration to a modern listed building, this is a case of national significance in urban design terms. The College will only gain a limited amount of space, insufficient to bring all its operations onto a single site, at the cost of spoiling one of Britain’s major public spaces.

H T Cadbury-Brown, the building’s original architect, said of the proposed Ellipse building:

“It seems to be mocking the existing buildings. I think it would be an absolute disaster if this building was made. It’s a very cheeky thing to put up against the Albert Hall, and at an angle too.”

In 1964, the critic Ian Nairn wrote of the original College building: “It has the greatness and stature that so many of the physically great new buildings of London so conspicuously lack.”

For further information and images please contact Claire Barrett on 020 7250 3857 or email at claire.barrett(at)
H T Cadbury-Brown on 01728 452591
Barry Ward, Planning Officer, City of Westminster on 020 7641 2932

Note to Editors

The Royal College of Art was designed between 1960-63 by HT Cadbury-Brown, in association with Hugh Casson and Robert Gooden. All three taught at the College. It won the prestigious RIBA Bronze Medal for London Architecture in 1963 and was listed at Grade II in 2001.