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Pawson’s CI fit out for Design Museum submitted

John Pawson’s plans to turn west London’s Commonwealth Institute into the new home for Design Museum have been submitted for listed building consent

The Grade II*-listed former museum and cultural institute is set to be transformed into a new base for the Design Museum as part of the long-running Chelsfield Partners-backed plans for its redevelopment.

This listed building consent is one of two applications which, if approved, will pave the way for the transformation of the 1960s landmark which features a distinctive parabolic roof.

The application seeks to: determine the exact size and location of the openings in the first and second floor slabs that will form the new central atrium; create a second opening in the second floor slab; create a new intermediate mezzanine level to replicate the original dais and create a new basement.

John Pawson said: ‘The Commonwealth Institute is 50 years old, but the form still feels daring. 

‘The sense of vertical expansion when you step into the heart of the building is exhilarating no matter how many times you experience it. Our work is about preserving and enhancing this spatial experience for new generations of visitors’.

Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic added: ‘This is an important step forward for the museum. Exploring the most appropriate way to bring a landmark building from the recent past back to life has been a fascinating and rewarding process’.

The Commonwealth Institute was designed by RMJM and opened by the Queen in 1962 but closed 50 years later after funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was withdrawn.

In July, Rem Koolhaas’ OMA unveiled images of its proposals to revamp the landscaped gardens surrounding the Holland Park building. Allies and Morrison is working with OMA as executive architects on the project. Planning permission for the overall site was granted in July 2010.

Last year Pawson beat David Chipperfield Architects, Haworth Tompkins, Caruso St John Architects, Stanton Williams, Tony Fretton and Dutch minimalist Claus En Kaan Architecten to win the project.  

The application was submitted to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the scheme is expected to start on site early next year.

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