Concrete Reality:Denys Lasdun
and the National Theatre
by Patrick Dillon, 2015Book design and principal photography

Jake Tilson worked alongside the architects Haworth Tompkins to produce architectural signage for the National Theatre between 2012 and 2015. He spent as much time digging in the NT archives as he did prototyping letters. So when asked to design a book about Denys Lasdun and building of the National he was already steeped in the visual language and history of the building. His knowledge of the NT archive also led to him finding photographs unseen for decades. To complement the historic photography used in the book Tilson took most of the photographs of the building as it is today.

"The National Theatre is a London landmark. Much-criticised when it opened, Denys Lasdun's NT is now recognised one of the great British buildings of the mid-twentieth century. Writer and architect Patrick Dillon, who led the recent regeneration for Haworth Tompkins architects, describes the National Theatre’s painful genesis and long design-process, illuminates the architecture, and explains his own passion for the building. Designed by artist Jake Tilson and profusely illustrated, Concrete Reality is the story of how a mid-century masterpiece was made."
National Theatre bookshop.

ISBN/EAN: 9780957225923
Publisher: National Theatre
Author: Patrick Dillon
Designer: Jake Tilson
Format: Paperback, 92 pages

Order the book directly from the National Theatre shop.

Book design & principal
photography Jake Tilson

Other photography
Philip Vile
Nicola Thorold
Steve Tompkins
Laura Canter

Picture researcher
Laura Canter

With special thanks to Susan Lasdun
for her permission to use materials
from her own collection and the RIBA
Archive, and to the National Theatre
Archive for all their assistance.

Dedicated to John Langley
and Paul Jozefowski

Printed and bound by John Good Limited

Typeset in:
Serifa (1966), Frutiger (1976), Univers
(1957), Apollo (1964), Glypha (1977) all
designed by Adrian Frutiger. Letter Gothic
12 Pitch (1956) by Roger Roberson.

Photos: copyright Jake Tilson, all rights reserved 2015.

I have rarely read a more vivid, revealing account of the design and construction of a building. Thanks in no short measure to Jake Tilson's graphic design, it manages to convey the texture and fabric of the structure by every conceivable means short of cladding the volume in concrete.
Gillian Darley, Icon Magazine 2015

A gorgeous and highly readable account of the building of the NT.
Yale University Press