Google+ London Architecture Blog: Week 10/13 Feature #3 Royal College of Physicians

Monday, 4 March 2013

Week 10/13 Feature #3 Royal College of Physicians

Elevation facing onto Regent's Park. Photograph is author's own.
The Royal College of Physicians, St. Andrew's Place, Park Square East was designed by Denys Lasdun and was completed in 1964. The building is situated opposite Regent's Park and is Grade I listed.

The previous building on the site, Someries House, designed by John Nash, was bombed during WWII and was left in a state of disrepair. The Royal College of Physicians purchased the site and drew up a shortlist for an architect to design a new college as they were planning to relocate from Trafalgar Square (in the building now known as Canada House). Denys Lasdun was chosen as the architect based on the fact that he insisted he would not design the new building in the classical style.

The design process began in 1958 and Lasdun began studying the classical street pattern and attempted to include this within a modern design. This is evident in his approach to material finishes, scale and positioning. Around the same time as the design was being developed, Lasdun was also working on the design for the National Theatre (South Bank), later to become what many regard as his greatest work and an icon of the modern movement and Brutalist style of architecture in Britain.. Although unpopular with much of the public and some critics, the modern style of architecture which Lasdun practised was slowly being appreciated and today the National Theatre is also listed at Grade II*.

The design of the college is a bold expression of modern concrete construction technology and form.. The long rectangular plan of the main building consists of three floors which progressively cantilever out towards the top. The pre-stressed reinforced concrete beam construction only being supported by three slender columns, two at the main entrance opposite Regent's Park and one at the back.. This gives the building a very dramatic appearance and contrasts greatly with the curved form of the adjoining Lecture theatre on the corner.
Elevation detail. Photograph is author's own.
The ground floor entrance space, the lecture theatre and the elevation to Albany Street are constructed from dark engineering bricks and visually separate the spaces from the bold geometry and light finish of the upper floors giving them a sense of floating and lightness . These are finished in off white mosaic tiles, perhaps a modern response to the classical stucco terraces designed by John Nash which form the street pattern. This contrasts greatly with Lasdun's use of raw exposed concrete found in the National Theatre. The windows are tall and narrow on the upper floor, providing views of Nash's houses and the surrounding buildings, whilst the entrance at ground floor level is fully glazed.

Central Staircase. Photograph courtesy Chris Guy aka Pixelhut via Flickr.

Inside, the entrance foyer provides access to the lecture theatre and the main building. From here, the central staircase then leads into a series of small gallery spaces and is overlooked by balconies on the upper floors. Adjacent to this is a large glass wall offering views out into the garden. To the back of the site, the building projects out providing offices and various support accommodation, and fronts onto Albany Street.

The building is still used by the RCP and retains it's original features.

No comments:

Post a Comment