1977 - Denys Lasdun (1914-2001)

Royal National Theatre, South Bank, London

Designer: Denys Lasdun & Partners
Copyright: Janet Hall/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1995)

The son of an engineer who died when he was a child, Denys Lasdun studied architecture at the Architectural Association in London, during which time he won an award for the design of student’s hostel.


Before the Second World War, Lasdun worked with Wells Coates, one of the founders of the Modern Architecture Research Group (MARS)


During the war, Lasdun enlisted with the Royal Engineers Airfield Construction Company, building advance airfields, and was involved in the D-Day landings.


In 1937, after designing and building a house on his own at 32 Newton Road, Paddington, London, Lasdun joined Tecton with Partners Lubetkin, Skinner and Drake. Tecton was dissolved in 1948.


Awarded the Royal Gold Medal 'in recognition of meritorious Modern buildings and their architects at a time when public appreciation of contemporary architecture is at a low ebb'.


In 1952, Lasdun joined Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew to look after their office while they worked on the new capital city of Chandigarh.


Ziggurats, University of East Anglia Campus

Designer: Denys Lasdun & Partners
Copyright: Bill Toomey/Architectural Press Archive/RIBA British Architectural Library (1960)

Denys Lasdun & Partners was established in 1959, with the most significant work being the Royal National Theatre in London (1961-76). The National Theatre was considered either as an icon of post-war modern architecture or as similar in design to a nuclear power station. In later years, the building was considered to illustrate Lasdun’s work as a pioneer of post-war modernism in Britain who transformed the pre-war white modernism into a richer style.


Other key works include Hallfield Primary School (1951); the student housing at the University of East Anglia, Norwich (1962-68); and the Sports Centre at the University of Liverpool (1963).