Building a new Britain

Keeling House, shadow study

Keeling House shadow study

Keeling House, shadow study
Architect: Sir Denys Lasdun (c. 1956)
Drawing: Sir Denys Lasdun (c. 1956)
Source: RIBA British Architectural Library Drawings & Archives Collection (Lasdun archive)

Denys Lasdun (1914-2001) was one of the most successful British architects of the 1950s and ’60s. His buildings, particularly the National Theatre on the South Bank in London, are regarded as symbolic of the period. Lasdun’s work divides opinions. Keeling House, his block of council flats (1956-60), has met with a range of responses, largely because of the contrast between its height and the low-rise terraces of Bethnal Green.

Tower blocks met much resistance: at sixteen storeys high, Keeling House might have been tall enough to cut out light from buildings all around. To prove this wasn’t the case, Lasdun, or more likely one of his assistants under his instructions, calculated and drew the shadows that would be cast by Keeling House on this plan, different colours marking different times of the day.

This drawing demonstrates Lasdun’s strong belief in science and logic: the slimness of the tower means that it only blocks the sun for a relatively short period in any one spot. He ensured that the residents of Keeling House would get plenty of health-giving sun, but not at the expense of those living nearby.


About the online exhibition

'How We Built Britain' is a major collaboration with the BBC


Images in the exhibition are from RIBApix, a growing database dedicated to providing you with exceptional and unique images from the RIBA British Architectural Library's collections.

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