New publication: Design Champion

9781527237490Our new publication, Design Champion: the Twentieth Century Royal Fine Art Commission 1924-1999, is available from Amazon.

For the whole of what might be called the ‘short’ Twentieth Century, from the aftermath of the Great War to the eve of the Third Millennium, the finest architects and designers in Britain applied their minds, through the medium of the Royal Fine Art Commission, to improving the quality of the built environment. From Edwin Lutyens, Henry Moore and John Piper to Elisabeth Frink, Hugh Casson and Nikolaus Pevsner, those who contributed form a roll-call of our greatest practitioners and critics. Together they put in hour after unglamorous hour analysing the design of buildings, street furniture, roads and bridges, not in expectation of reward but out of conviction that ordinary men and women who encountered these designs in their daily lives deserved the best. It is a remarkable story of civic duty performed freely in the public interest, against the background of high politics, difficult personalities and the physical disruption wrought by wars, the motor car and advances in technology. The Commission’s intervention was decisive in giving us some of our modern icons – the red telephone box, Coventry Cathedral and Bankside Power Station, now Tate Modern – but much of its work lay in painstaking graft that was under-appreciated in its time. This volume, making extensive use of Government papers, puts that work in its historical perspective and pays due tribute to the people who made it possible.

H.R.H. The Duke of York, K.G. becomes our Patron

Official Regimental PortraitsThe Duke of York has accepted an invitation to become our Patron, in succession to the late Lord Carrington, K.G.

To mark the association, His Royal Highness has contributed a foreword to our new publication Design Champion, a history of The Royal Fine Art Commission and its role in encouraging good design in the twentieth century.

The Duke of York writes that “the care shown by the Royal Fine Art Commission had its roots in the work of Prince Albert, my great-great-great-grandfather, who chaired its nineteenth century predecessor. His aesthetic sense, insistence on the highest standards and attention to detail inspire me today. I am proud to become Patron of The Royal Fine Art Commission Trust in 2019, as we mark the bicentenary of the birth of Prince Albert, at a time when there is a resurgence of interest in the need for beauty in our environment.”

Stephen Bayley, who succeeds Lord Palumbo of Walbrook as our chairman, adds that: “We are delighted to be working with The Duke of York to spread awareness of how well-designed buildings and places benefit everyone.  And RFACT is not afraid to discuss beauty. The more so since there is a growing disparity between the levels of beauty in rich and poor areas: because aesthetic deprivation cannot be quantified does not mean it does not exist. We believe that better design is good for the spirit, the culture and the economy.  We will do what we can to ensure that is understood, appreciated and acted upon wherever possible.”

Design Champion: the Twentieth Century Royal Fine Art Commission 1924-1999 is available from Amazon.


2019 Architectural Drawing Summer School – apply now

Ed_Dowding_SS_2018.width-2000The 2018 Architectural Drawing Summer School (Photo: Ed Dowding)

DEADLINE 20 May for applications to the Architectural Drawing Summer School 24–29 August 2019

If you are a student in Year 1 or 2 of your A levels and you have an interest in studying architecture, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the subject with some of the best lecturers teaching architecture in the UK.

Now in its third year, the weeklong Architectural Drawing Summer School course is designed to give A-Level students with an interest in architecture and the built environment an insight into how professional architects record what they see, how this information connects to the buildings they produce and how the process of drawing can be used to test and develop an idea.

The summer school is organised by the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust in association with Drawing Matter, Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Kingston School of Art, Queens University Belfast and Bruton School for Girls with generous sponsorship from Eric Parry, Peter Wilson and Níall McLaughlin Architects, and individual scholarships funded by a growing list of architectural practices in the UK and Europe. Expert tuition will be led by Andrew Clancy, Professor of Architecture at Kingston, with a team of tutors and experts from each of the universities.

We are looking for intelligent and communicative young people with a keen interest in the visual environment, an inquisitive attitude and a positive approach to learning. Our intention is to give them an opportunity, at what could be a pivotal point in their intellectual development, to gain an understanding from professionals about the built world around them.

The built environment is both a laboratory and an archive, with new work taking its place beside the old. The key for anyone working in this territory is their ability to see, and to use the insights gained to allow them to make new work. Our interest in making drawings and other representations arises because of their ability to enable the students in understanding a given place, but also architecture more generally, and this summer school seeks to celebrate and develop this essential skill.

The opportunity may particularly suit young people who are thinking about a career in architecture or the built environment, or who have shown aptitude in those directions, but that is by no means a requirement: we expect the skills learnt at the summer school to be fully transferable.

Successful applicants will receive bed and board in the facilities of Bruton School for Girls. They will work in the town of Bruton and liaise intensively with educational facilities and staff at Hauser & Wirth Somerset. During the week students will be exposed to conversations and exercises set by many of the leading thinkers in architectural education today.

If you would like to nominate a pupil from your school, or would like to apply yourself, please POST your application to: Prof Andrew Clancy (Summer School Application), Kingston School of Art, Knights Park Campus, Grange Road, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2QJ by 5pm on Monday 20 May 2019.

Please include:

• A brief (200 words maximum) statement from the pupil about their favourite room or space. This can be a normal part of their everyday life or somewhere they have visited.

• A maximum of four A4-size sheets demonstrating the student’s work — this can be sketches, drawings, models, paintings, etc. These can be originals or reproductions as the student sees fit. It should be noted, however, that these entries cannot be returned.

NOTE TO TEACHERS: In relation to the four sheets described above, please take care to put the student’s name and the school name on the verso of each sheet — surname first.

• A completed copy of the cover sheet for entries included on the final page of 2019_Call_for_Entries_15.1.2019.

There is likely to be considerable competition for the 45 places available, so this supporting material will be a key part of the selection process.

Offers of places will be made to nominators by 31 May 2019 and will be conditional on parental consent. Nominators of pupils attending the Summer School will be invited to a concluding exhibition and lunch at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Bruton, on 29 August.

If you have any questions, please contact Andrew Clancy on and he will be happy to help.

For organisations and offices interested in sponsoring a student this year, find out how.

Further information about the Summer School, including programme and staff list, will be published as it becomes available.


The Summer School is organised by the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust in association with Drawing Matter, Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Kingston School of Art, Queens University Belfast and Bruton School for Girls.