Architecture: Design Museum, London

The wait was finally over. Earlier this month we were thrilled to attend the opening of the new London Design Museum which sits proudly inside the former Commonwealth Institute on Kensington High Street. The project was lead by John Pawson and Rem Koolhaus’ OMA

The project was made possible through a deal with the property investor and developer group Chelsfield, and the local council. The developers were given permission to fill the site with luxury flats, in exchange for £20 million towards to renovation, and a rent-free 300 year lease. 

The building’s distinctive copper covered, hyperbolic paraboloid roof is one of the few remaining features of this heritage listed structure. Hidden from street view during it’s re-build, many believed the building had been built from the ground up. The roof, which remains exposed on the underside, slices through the centre of the building creating a huge atrium inside. Re-purposing the space inside proved one of the biggest challenges for the architects. 

“The structure of the building beforehand was not capable of supporting any kind of meaning modern function. The floors themselves were built very cheaply in the 60’s, but what was the star of the show was the roof,” said a spokesperson for the firm. 

Two basement levels were excavated increasing the footprint by 10,000 square metres, making the new premises triple the size as the former Shad Thames location in South East London. 

The new John Pawson interior features galleries as a series of calm, atmospheric spaces, articulated around oak clad walls and a marble lined atrium. 

The restaurant, named ‘Parabola’ is named after the signature roof, offering views of Holland Park. On the same level is the members’ room, and ‘Helen and Johannes Huth Gallery’ a space featuring pop-ip exhibitions, public programming and corporate hire.

The top floor of the museum is filled with the museums permanent collection, an exhibition that presents almost 1000 objects including the London tube train, British road signs and an interactive fashion display.

The floor below provides a space dedicated to education, an archive library and the ‘Swarovski foundation for learning’.

The Ground floor houses the museum’s coffee and juice counter, and the fabulous Design Museum shop. The basement galleries feature impressive double height ceilings, and will feature up to seven temporary exhibitions a year. The 200 seat auditorium will hosts lectures and talks throughout the year.

Images via Dezeen

Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 6AG

Nicky’s World – November 2016