RIBA president Marco Goldschmied was today set to sign a preliminary agreement on a 100-year lease with the Victoria & Albert Museum to provide a new home for the institute's collection of more than a million drawings and manuscripts. The deal came as architect Wright & Wright unveiled details of the £5 million plan to convert a series of rooms in the Grade I-listed museum's Henry Cole wing to house the collection.
Goldschmied has agreed to take on the accommodation for a peppercorn rent for the first 30 years, after which a commercial rate will be agreed. The project is a collaboration between the two institutions and will improve access to the V&A's own architectural collection. The scheme also aims to increase the profile of the RIBA's collection by moving it out of its current home at Portman Square in London.
The scheme will create two new public spaces by splitting a 6. 5m tall room with a mezzanine level suspended from the ceiling using a steel grid. This will create space for the RIBA reading room which will look down through the grid onto the V&A's print room. The two areas will be joined by a spiral staircase but the collections will remain distinct entities. 'The RIBA was very clear it wanted the collection to be displayed in a very hands-on way, ' said Wright & Wright partner Claire Wright.
The south-facing windows will be clad with 'lightboxes' made of both semi-opaque and translucent glass to limit the amount of direct sunlight coming into the room. Vignettes of clear glass will allow readers views out of the building. The scheme also features large areas of storage for both collections, as well as a teaching room, office and small library for the RIBA.
The Heritage Lottery Fund will make a preliminary decision on an application for £3. 3 million in March and the remainder of the cost will be made up by private sponsors who so far include Tim Sainsbury.