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Wednesday 20/04/2022: Visit to Holland Park and the Czech Embassy

The visit was led by Peter Jamieson and Peter Ruback and started at on Kensington High Street outside the Design Museum. The walk celebrated some of the best mid-century and Brutalist buildings in an area best known for High Victorian architecture.

CzEmb cPJamiesonWe started outside the Design Museum which was formerly the Commonwealth Institute, by Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners (1960-62). Despite a 20C-Society campaign the former institute was almost completely rebuilt by OMA and Allies and Morrison, with the interior remodelled for the museum by John Pawson (2016).

We saw buildings by some distinguished practices (including Colin St. John Wilson, Douglas Stephen and Partners and Tom Kay) and other less well-known or recognised. These were all striking Modernist insertions of the 1950s and 1960s into the Victorian landscape. They met with critical acclaim, but popular local opinon has yet to come to terms with them.

We finished at the Czech Embassy (Šrámek, Bočan and Stephansplatz with Robert Matthew, Czech Emb SMALL cKenyh Cevarom CCJohnson-Marshall and Partners, 1965-70), where First Secretary Martin Hošek welcomed the party and guided us around the public areas, including newly-refurbished interiors.

This event was run jointly with The Twentieth Century Society.
Image above: the Czech Embassy garden Image left: Czech Embassy exterior© Kenyh Cevarom, Creative Commons.

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