This version of the iconic British ‘institution’ – the red phone box – was designed by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1924 (you may know him as the designer of the Battersea Power Station).
Formally known as the K2 telephone kiosk, Scott’s design was selected after a competition organised by the Royal Fine Art Commission (there’s a wooden prototype of Scott’s K2 located under the entrance to the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly – the location where it was originally positioned).
The design featured a classical-looking dome (said to have been influenced by the work of architect Sir John Soane) which featured the royal crest of King George V (done in perforation, so it also provided ventilation). The phone box was made in cast iron and painted red (Scott had apparently suggested silver). From 1926 onwards, around 1,700 of the K2s – which weighed more than a ton – were deployed around London (very few were ever erected outside the city).
The surviving K2s – there are said to be slightly more than 200 – are now listed buildings.
The telephone box is a part of the Design Museum’s permanent collection which is currently held in two locations but from 2015 will be housed in a new purpose-built museum in High Street Kensington.
The box, which will be displayed on the museum’s top floor which will be dedicated to the display of 20th century artefacts, is currently featured in a special exhibition, Design Museum Collection: Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things, which runs at the museum’s current premises until January, 2015.
To further explore the Design Museum’s collection, you can download a free Design Museum Collection App for iPad app via iTunes.
WHERE: Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames (nearest Tube stations are London Bridge and Tower Bridge); WHEN: 10am to 5.45pm daily (last admission 5.15pm); COST: £11.85 adults/£10.70 concessions/£7.50 students (children under 12 are free); WEBSITE: www.designmuseum.org
2 thoughts on “Treasures of London – K2 telephone kiosk at the Design Museum…”
How sad that the few surviving K2s already have to be listed buildings. The red phone box was something that we used almost every day of our lives, until mobile phones etc rendered them obsolete.
What next? Will public letter boxes disappear because everyone uses email?