The Commonwealth Institute


Kensington, UK


The Commonwealth Nations


Commonwealth Institute


12,300 SQM





The Commonwealth Institute remains one of the most striking pieces of architecture RMJM has produced and is widely heralded as an iconic British gem of the 20th Century. Designed by Sir Robert Matthew just a few years after the inception of RMJM, the building was tasked with showcasing to the public “how the rest of the Commonwealth lives.”

Opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1963 and located in a pre-eminent West London site, the building was funded by contributions from Commonwealth nations and became a distinguished space for educating the public on art, music, architecture and more that had been produced within the recently formed Commonwealth.

The interior of the main building was founded upon a theme of inclusiveness and structured as a three-level exhibition hall linking its multiple spaces with sui generis walkways.

The design aspired to achieve the concept of a ‘pavilion in the park’ as evidenced by the building’s tent-like roof stretching across the whole building. Made with 25 tonnes of copper donated by the Norther Rhodesia Chamber of Mines, the roof represents true innovation in both form and design. Moreover, the roof’s aesthetic and functionality are now generally considered as a hallmark of 1960s British architecture.