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Revealed: Shortlist announced in Natural History Museum contest

Niall McLaughlin, Stanton Williams, Feilden Clegg Bradley and BIG have all made the shortlist of the major design competition to ‘re-imagine’ the grounds around London’s Natural History Museum

Danish superstars BIG are the only international team to make the list which includes a number of Stirling Prize-winning, home-grown firms.

The shortlist

  • BIG with Martha Schwartz Partners
  • Grant Associates with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
  • Niall McLaughlin Architects with Kim Wilkie
  • Land Use Consultants with Design Engine
  • Stanton Williams Architects with Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape Architects

Chosen from more than 40 entries, the shortlisted teams now go forward to the second stage of the competition, having until January 2014 to work up proposals for the grade I-listed museum’s new civic public realm.

Competition organiser Malcolm Reading, added: ‘The list reflects the diversity of interest generated by the competition. The brief for the design stage is challenging and combines the redevelopment of the current landscape with ambitions to re-energise visitor engagement – so we were looking for teams with the breadth of expertise to deliver an integrated response. The museum is one of the world’s great institutions and we have a shortlist of designers of world-class status and capability.’

Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, said: ‘We’re delighted with the architectural community’s response to the project and are eager to see the design proposals that aim to enhance the world class setting of the Museum. We look forward to working with the winning team.

The major project will see the grounds of the existing 1881 building, designed by RIBA Royal Gold Medallist Alfred Waterhouse, revamped to create an ‘innovative exterior setting’.

In 2009, CF Møller added the £78 million Darwin Centre extension to the museum, which houses 70 million natural history specimens and six million rare books and artworks. Two years later Dixon Jones completed a ground-breaking shared surface revamp of the neighbouring Exhibition Road (AJ 09.12.11).

The winning team is expected to be announced in February 2014, following a public exhibition of the shortlisted entries.

Previous story (19.09.13)

Global hunt begins for design team to overhaul Natural History Museum grounds

A major design competition has been launched to ‘re-imagine’ the grounds around London’s Grade I-listed Natural History Museum

Contest organiser Malcolm Reading of Malcolm Reading Consultants said the competition was aimed at the ‘brightest talent, internationally - in particular active collaborations between architects and landscape designers’.

The existing building in South Kensington by RIBA Royal Gold Medallist Alfred Waterhouse was completed in 1881 and is extensively clad in terracotta tiles designed to ‘resist the sooty climate of Victorian London’. In 2009, CF Møller added the £78 million Darwin Centre extension to the museum, which houses 70 million natural history specimens and six million rare books and artworks. Two years later Dixon Jones completed a ground-breaking shared surface revamp of the neighbouring Exhibition Road (AJ 09.12.11).

The museum now wants ‘an innovative exterior setting that matches the architectural excellence of the iconic 19th-century site while ensuring that the museum grounds are easily accessible to all visitors’.

Reading added: ‘It’s a wonderful design challenge with great promise. This is one of a handful of landmark settings in London and the Waterhouse Building will get a landscape to complement its extraordinary look.’

Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, said: ‘The Natural History Museum is renowned for inspiring architecture that celebrates the natural world and is one of London’s most iconic buildings.

‘The grounds surrounding the building make an important contribution to how people experience the museum. This competition offers the very best of the architectural industry the opportunity to set [the existing building] in a modern context, so it continues to be one of the UK’s most recognised and admired destinations.’

The deadline for expressions of interest is 28 October 2013. The shortlist for the second stage will be announced in November, with the winning team expected to be announced in February 2014, following a public exhibition.

A website providing full details and how to respond is launched today (19 September).

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