London Festival of Architecture: tours, art and LEGO

This month we have been celebrating the 20th anniversary of the London Festival of Architecture (LFA) in our Grade I Listed building. A big thank you to everyone who came along to our events for architecture enthusiasts, brand new visitors and creative families. Here are a few highlights:

Museum Late: Reimagining the RCP’s brutalist ‘battleship’ architecture 

On 4 June we were joined by many interested visitors the majority of which had never been to our striking home before. Most of the award-winning brutalist structure designed by Sir Denys Lasdun was open and armed with a visitor book, LFA building trail and quiz there was plenty to encourage visitors to explore.

Our assistant archivist Felix was on hand in the peaceful Council Chamber with a special display of original plans, proposals, construction photos and letters from the committee all about the choice of architect Denys Lasdun and how his design of the building developed.

Many of the guests joined an hour-long guided tour exploring how the iconic, and sometimes controversial building boldly reimagined how the headquarters of England’s oldest medical college would be represented and designed around its occupants. The tour reviewed how our unique building ‘matches and rhymes’ with its classical surroundings and how RCP members – and neighbours – responded to Lasdun’s designs. In keeping with the LFA theme of ‘Reimagine’ we also considered how later changes enable the building to serve today, in its contemporary reimagining as a modern membership organisation’s HQ, business venue, and public museum.

'Fantastic tour guide - stunning building.'

'[I have] a much better appreciation of the building'

'Very relaxed and informative' 


visitors on a guided tour
visitors explore our archives

Reimagining the RCP building: Family workshop

On Saturday 15 June a group of creative families attended a brand-new session for LFA 2024 reimagining our RCP HQ with the RCP team and artist Rachel Mercer from London Drawing. The session included LEGO construction, an interactive architecture tour and in-depth art workshop. We were thoroughly delighted by how the children got involved and how wonderfully inventive they were – maybe some budding architects!

LEGO creations

With a wide range of Lego on hand and examples of our London and Liverpool buildings we asked them to make their own buildings. While creating we asked, who would your building be for? How would you make your building work for them?

Here are a few of the results:

  • A posh hotel needed a pool, restaurant with balcony, receptionist with a great hat and plenty rooms
  • A jail needed a police station, bathrooms, metal detectors and high walls
  • Rapunzel’s tower needed to be very tall with a high window
  • A ghost house – doesn’t need doors, they go through the walls, obviously.
Children creating with Lego
Children creating with Lego
Children creating with Lego
Children posting their ideas on post-its onto a board

Interactive tour

Through fun games we explored the building considering how the architect thought of the building like a human body, how it had to be a modern home for an old institution, and that today it is also an event space and museum. At the end of the tour we shared how some people thought our building looked like a battleship or a sausage factory and invited the children to tell us what they thought the building looked like, answers included:

  • Hospital
  • Aircraft tunnel
  • Mansion
  • Robot
  • Hotel
  • Prison cell
  • Minecraft
  • Weird shape

Art workshop with London Drawing

Finally we all settled in with artist Rachel Mercer from London Drawing to create artworks of brand new buildings using the ideas and inspiration of the session so far. Rachel invited them to create rubbings of stencilled organs of the human body, draw over the top with their own invented building plans and collage with photos of the RCP building, coloured paper and anatomical drawings. The buildings invented included wonderful ideas such as:

  • Cinemas were created from brains and hearts
  • Intestines were turned into stairs and mazes
  • Spines became lifts
  • Heads were turned into entrances and dramatic exits
  • Pelvises became rooms
  • Femurs were turned into sun loungers by a pool shaped like a liver
  • Canons were added to shoot you out of the mouth – don’t worry you get a parachute!
Children creating art buildings
Children creating art buildings
showing off the creations
Side view of the RCP building and garden

The London Festival of Architecture

The LFA this year invited us to share events that would inspire audiences to ‘rethink how our public spaces can be as reflective of the people they serve’, use ‘radical imagination’ and ‘reimagine what we want [for] our future city’. Through these two events aimed at different audiences we hope to have in small way sparked thoughts about building for the people your space serves, a good dollop of imagination and inspiration for potential architects of the future.  


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Library, Archive and Museum