Casson, Hugh, 1910-1999

Alternative names
Birth 1910-05-23
Death 1999-08-15

Biographical notes:

President, Royal Academy.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : London, to Charles Ryskamp, [ca. 1979]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270133485

d. August 15, 1999.

From the description of Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122345542

Epithet: architect

Title: Knight

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001149.0x000222

Hugh Maxwell Casson (1910 - 1999) was born in London. He spent the first few years of his life in Burma, where his father was posted with the Indian Civil Service, before being sent back to England to attend school and live with relatives. He studied architecture at Cambridge University from 1929 to 1932, and at the Bartlett School of Architecture from 1933 to 1934, where he met his future wife Margaret Troup, who was also an architect and designer. In 1935 he became a junior partner of Christopher 'Kit' Nicholson and worked with the architect on projects such as the London Gliding Club at Dunstable and the surrealist redecoration of Monkton House for Edward James.

Casson was also a prolific journalist: in 1937 he became the architectural correspondent for the short lived Day and Night magazine, and his articles, which he often illustrated, were regularly published in the Architect's Journal and the Architectural Review , to which he was also advisory editor.

During the Second World War he was employed by the Camouflage Service of the Air Ministry as a camouflage designer. After Kit Nicholson's death in a gliding accident in 1948, Casson began a working partnership with Neville Conder, the younger architect with whom he was to create the Casson Conder Partnership. In the same year Casson was appointed Director of Architecture for the 1951 Festival of Britain. Over the next three years he designed the overall site plan for the South Bank exhibition and co-ordinated the work of a large number of architects and artists who worked together to create an eclectic group of pavilions and structures on the site. In 1952 Casson was knighted for his achievements at the Festival of Britain.

In the following decades the Casson Conder Partnership's commissions included: the Arts Faculty for the Sidgwick site at Cambridge University, 1952; the Elephant and Rhino Pavilion at London Zoo, 1965; and the Ismaili Centre, South Kensington, 1981. Casson also worked on a number of private commissions that included: the interior design of the yacht Camanda for Whitney Straight, 1967, the Royal Yacht Britannia and various rooms at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle for the Royal Family. He designed stage sets for theatre and opera productions, including Alceste in 1953 and La Fedelta Premiata in 1979 for Glyndebourne Festival Opera.

He was Professor of Environmental Design at the Royal College of Art from 1953 to 1975, and in 1976 he was elected President of the Royal Academy of Arts. Casson was also a watercolour painter and an avid sketcher, and published a number of books, including Diary (1981) and Hugh Casson's London (1983). He sat on many committees and continued to be active in the fields of conservation, planning, and the arts until his death.

From the guide to the Sir Hugh Casson, architect, designer, illustrator and journalist: papers, 1867-2007, (Victoria and Albert Museum: Archive of Art and Design)


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  • Architectural design--History--20th century
  • Designer
  • Architecture--Designs and plans
  • Architecture--Great Britain--History--20th century
  • Architectural Drawings
  • Journalism


  • Architect


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