Charles Holden (1875-1960) is no longer a household name, but no architect did more to shape London’s educational and transportation infrastructures. From designing 48 of London Underground's stations to building its headquarters at 55 Broadway, Holden's work in the 1920s laid the foundation for modern London's transportation system. In the 1930s, under the direction of Lord Beveridge, Holden embarked on a monumental task: creating the first central campus for the University of London, stretching from the British Museum to Gordon Square. His designs for Senate House and the Warburg Institute not only showcased his architectural prowess but also embodied the University's ethos of access to education for all.
The free exhibition, on the First Floor of Senate House, celebrates Holden’s vision for a modern university through architectural models, archival documents, photo albums, and films. Visitors can explore the history of his designs and discover how his visionary approach shaped the Bloomsbury campus.
Senate House and the Warburg Institute (both home to world-class libraries) not only serve as the bookends of the Bloomsbury campus but mark the beginning and ending of Holden’s work for the University. As the renovation of the Warburg reaches completion with the Warburg Renaissance and the Senate House Library Transformation Project gets underway, this exhibition offers an inspiring glimpse of Holden’s boldplan.
Curated by Bill Sherman, Director of the Warburg Institute, and Richard Temple, Archivist of the University of London, this exhibition is for anyone interested in architecture, history, and the development of London as a global centre of education and culture.
Warburg Models: The Architecture of the Itinerant Archive
Developed out of a student seminar at AHO, the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, and first shown in Norway in 2021, the exhibition travelled to Warburg-Haus, Hamburg, in November 2023 to be exhibited in the rooms that were originally inhabited by the library. Ninety years after the emigration of the Warburg library to England in 1933, the exhibition recreated the historic journey from Hamburg to London to be exhibited ‘in-transit’ at Judith Clark Studio in December 2023.
In the fourth iteration of the exhibition in the AA Gallery, ‘Warburg Models’ refers not only to architectural models as material representations of buildings that contained images, ideas and knowledge; but also refers to the frameworks of education and knowledge-making that remain one of Warburg’s most influential legacies.
The exhibition features models and drawings of the seven different spaces occupied by the Warburg Institute, highlighting Aby Warburg’s profound engagement with architecture and interiors. This exhibition is further enriched by its dialogue with the AA lantern slides collection, reflecting the two independent educational institutions, and the ways knowledge is ordered within our archives to rethink the interaction between ideas, buildings and society.
These exhibitions, just 500 yards apart, create a unique narrative thread, connecting Holden's architectural mastery with Warburg's cultural and educational vision. They are not only about the physical structures but also the ideas and knowledge they housed and fostered.