The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Events Archive

South Kensington Walk and Tour of the Royal College of Art




South Kensington Walk and Tour of the Royal College of Art. 

Wednesday 20 September 2023.

South Kensington Walk.   

Start time/Place: 6pm/ South Kensington Underground Station North Exit (onto Thurloe Street)

Royal College of Art Tour.   

Start time/Place: 7pm/RCA Jay Mews Entrance.

The tour finishes 8.30 and is followed by drinks at the RCA bar.


The walk will take in a diverse cast of 20th and 21st century architecture in South Kensington, spotlighting classic heavy hitters and recently completed projects. The highlights will include: Casson Conder Partnership’s Ismaili Centre (1985); the Norman and Dawbarn (1950s) and Foster + Partners (present-day) expansions of Imperial College London; the 1970s extension to the Natural History Museum (G.A.H. Pearce); Hyde Park Chapel (1961, T. P. Bennett & Son) and more.

The walk will be led by Carlos Finlay and Chunyi Sun (Cy). Carlos is a heritage consultant at Alan Baxter, and Cy is an illustrator and a third-year architecture student at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.


A tour led by architectural historian, and RCA lecturer, Dr. Joshua Mardell,  celebrating 60 years since the completion of the principal buildings of the Royal College of Art, by Jim and Betty Cadbury-Brown, Hugh Casson and Robert Gooden.

The college’s site was zoned by Westminster Council after WWII for educational purposes and earmarked to the Royal College of Art. The new building was designed as three blocks: the workshop block (1960-1, now ‘Darwin’), modelled on the concept of the “flatted factory”, with industrial floor loadings and maximum internal flexibility; the double-height Gulbenkian wing providing gallery space (1960-62); and the common room and library block (1962-3, now ‘Frayling’). The building had a contextual response to its site, indeed Gavin Stamp described it as “a modern building with good manners”.

The architects were RCA staff: H. T. Cadbury-Brown (1913-2009), a tutor in the sculpture department, assisted by Sir Hugh Casson (1910-1999), Professor of Interior Design, and Robert Goodden (1909-2002), Professor of Silversmithing and Jewellery. Two women architects were also involved: Betty Cadbury-Brown who designed the Gulbenkian wing and oversaw much of the building’s detailing; and Margaret Casson (1913-1999) who designed many of the interiors, often with her RCA students. There is also later work by Colquhoun, Miller and Partners and Wright&Wright.

After the tour finishes you will be invited to join us in the RCA bar for drinks, including a special Cadbury-Brown cocktail (famously, the Cadbury-Brown’s favourite tipple was whiskey sours!).

C20 Members price: £20     Non members:  £25 (includes one drink at RCA bar)

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The Twentieth Century Society is an IHBC (Institute of Historic Building conservation) recognised CPD provider. 

The Twentieth Century Society is a registered charity, no 1110244 

Above:  Ismaili Centre, Casson Conder Partnership.  Photograph: Chunyi Sun