London’s Design Museum, which has been housed near Tower Bridge since its opening in 1989, has moved to a redeveloped Kensington site. The new site was designed by John Pawson and developed by OMA and Allies and Morrison. Mace and Arup were contracted to provide engineering consultancy, construction support and fit-out services for the new site.
London’s Design Museum brings together product, industrial, graphic, fashion and architectural design artefacts of note. The museum, which was housed in a converted banana warehouse by the River Thames near Tower Bridge, recently saw a considerable donations and investment totalling £83 million – which allowed it to draw up plans for a move to Kensington.
The new look museum, which reopened on November 24 at its new location, was designed by John Pawson and Co., within a former Grade II listed 1960s building. The building, which had been vacant for more than a decade, was transformed to meet the requirements of 21st century museum goers, as well as becoming an exercise in design in its own right.
The development of the new site was undertaken by OMA and Allies and Morrison, for which Mace and Arup were appointed as the main contractors. The work involved base build, restoration and comprehensive structural alterations to the historic site – the roof as well as the perimeter structure were kept, while the internals of the building were ‘carved out’.
The redevelopment of the interior includes additional space in the basement, providing room for a temporary gallery space and a 200 seat auditorium. As part of the redevelopment of the interior, the 1,500 tonne roof was suspended at around 20 meters above ground level – creating a technical engineering challenge for the firm. This came with considerable risk of damage if – during the wider construction of the interior support structure – the roof moved too far out of alignment.
In total, the redeveloped building has three times the space of the former site. The new space includes a permanent collection display called 'Designer Maker', a library, a shop, a restaurant, a café and learning studios.
Mark Wenlock, Group Development Director, Chelsfield, says that the engineering challenges in maintaining the Grade II Listed parabolic roof, whilst forming a double height new basement, were immense. "Arup and the main contractor, Mace, were involved in very complex engineering and temporary works solutions to make this possible. It’s a great testament to their expertise and dedication that the works proceeded without incident and the structure is now fit for many generations.”
Gareth Lewis, Mace’s COO, says that he is proud of the firm's contribution, adding that Hollandgreen is set to again become one of the capital’s most iconic buildings. "One of London’s unique cultural institutions has been given a new lease of life, while providing high quality family accommodation in landscaped grounds that complement and integrate into the nearby Holland Park and the surrounding area.”
Nigel Ciuffetelli, who served as Arup's Lead Structural Engineer on the engagement, calls the building's central hyperbolic paraboloid shell an "astonishing" engineering jewel, one that can be showcased as an example of "great engineering design from the past".