Design Museum unveils plans for £80 million Kensington switch

By Culture24 Reporter | 24 January 2012
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A graphic design of the inside of a modern museum
Planners behind the Design Museum's new home have revealed their vision© Luke Hayes
If last year was one to gawp at for admirers of showstopping new museums, the Design Museum might already have announced the most spectacular venture we'll see blueprints for in 2012.

Technically their new home, at the 1960s Commonwealth Institute building in a Kensington quarter where you can also find the V&A, the Science Museum and the Royal College of Art, among others, won't open until 2014.

Still, taking over a building which has fallen silent for a decade, the ambition behind the £80 million build is as big as its budget, facelifting the interior of the Grade II-listed Institute within a surrounding residential development.

"The most exciting thing about the project is that, at the end of it all, London will have a world-class museum of design, with galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions, education spaces and a library," said architect John Pawson, speaking at a launch and tour attended by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey and beaming city Mayor Boris Johnson.

"There is particularly nice symbolism in the fact that in making this legacy for future generations, we are saving a work of iconic architecture.

"I hope the result will demonstrate that you don't need to demolish old buildings to make wonderful new public spaces."

The switch, which will triple the museum's space and is expected to double its annual visitor count to 500,000, has been boosted by the advice of Lord Cunliffe, a ringleader in the architectural team behind the new building in 1958, and James Sutherland, its original structural engineer.

More than 60% of a £45 million fundraising target has already been met, largely aided by a £17 million pledge from founder Terence Conran's own educational foundation, as well as an expected £5 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant and a range of other hefty donations.

"We are very excited by all the work that John Pawson and the rest of the design team have done," said Deyan Sudjic, the Director of the museum, calling the plans "an important step forward".

"They have put forward a brilliant strategy to bring the former Commonwealth Institute back to life, which will allow the public to see the essential qualities of this historic listed building, and make a wonderful new home for the Design Museum."

More pictures:

A photo of a digital image of the outside of a modern museum surrounded by a garden
© Alex Morriis Visualisation
A photo of the inside of a wide, modern museum with a motorbike in the foreground
© Alex Morris Visualisation
An image of the upper level of a modern museum with visitors walking around
© Alex Morris Visualisation
An image of a computer generated image of the inside of a modern museum
© Alex Morris Visualisation
A black and white photo of a roof arching out inside an airy modern museum
© Luke Hayes
An image of a computer generated image showing the outside of a rural museum
© Luke Hayes
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