Slipped through

Hugh Maxwell Casson (1910-1999)

Whipsnade Zoo

Designer: Felton, Leo Herbert (d. 1968)
Copyright: Leo Herbert Felton/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1935)

Casson studied at Cambridge before attending the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. Before the beginning of the Second World War, Casson taught at the Cambridge School of Architecture as well as working in the office of Christopher (Kit) Nicholson.


Casson was appointed as Director of the Festival of Britain in 1948 and used his role to encourage young talented architects to celebrate the past achievements and consider future possibilities through modern design.


Alongside his work for the Festival of Britain, Casson established a partnership with Neville Conder, and secured commissions such as the Elephant House at London Zoo in 1964, and the masterplanning and design of the Sidgwick Avenue Arts Faculty building for the University of Cambridge in 1959-1961.


Casson also maintained his artistic talent throughout his life. He designed the interiors of the Royal Yacht Britannia and is credited with teaching Charles, Prince of Wales how to paint in watercolour.


Casson was nominated 13 times for the Royal Gold Medal over 35 years. Interestingly, he withdrew his name on five of these occasions.