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Amanda Levete's practice wins planning for V&A Boiler House Yard


AL_A ‘evolved’ proposals for a new courtyard and underground extension to the V&A museum in Exhibition Road, West Kensington have been approved

The competition-winning scheme, now budgeted at £41 million, will create a new subterranean gallery, overhaul a previously an inaccessible back-of-house space and open up a new entrance from the recently landscaped Exhibition Road on the west side of the famous London museum.

Amanda Levete, principal of AL_A said: ‘This is a defining project for [the practice].

‘We’re reimagining the dialogue between the V&A and Exhibition Road and in doing so, creating a new public space in the cultural and learning heart of London. It’s made particularly special by the V&A collections having inspired so much of our work’

Paul Ruddock, chairman of the V&A Board of Trustees, said: ’ The move [is] a significant step closer to signalling this new era of the V&A’s remarkable history which will transform the way we present temporary exhibitions and reinforce the museum as a world leader of art and design.

‘Not only will the development continue to improve the presence of Exhibition Road as an international cultural hub but it will provide us with the building and
facilities to welcome more residents and visitors than ever before.’

The AJ understands that £25million has now been pledged towards the scheme.

Construction work is due to begin later this year and is scheduled to complete by the end of 2015 in time for a 2016 opening.

ala descent

Previous story (AJ 02.05.2012)

Amanda Levete’s practice submits plans for V&A Boiler House Yard

AL_A has submitted ‘evolved’ plans for a new courtyard and underground extension to the V&A museum in Exhibition Road, south Kensington

Amanda Levete’s practice beat stars such as Tony Fretton, Jamie Fobert and Snøhetta to land the £27 million project last March (see below).

The architect’s view

Our first move, to unlock the potential to bring in new audiences, is to create a relationship between the museum and the street that does not exist today. By negotiating the threshold between them, we take the V&A onto Exhibition Road and Exhibition Road into the V&A. In doing so, we must strike that delicate balance between marking the threshold and giving people permission to drift in off the street. The creation of a new publicly accessible place in the form of a courtyard, that mediates between street and museum revealing previously hidden views of the fine facades of the V&A will do just that.

Previous story (AJ 28.03.2011)

Amanda Levete scoops V&A Boiler House Yard extension job

Amanda Levete Architects (AL_A) has won an international competition to design a new courtyard and underground extension to the V&A museum in Exhibition Road, West Kensington, London

The practice beat shortlisted competitors Michael Maltzan Architecture, Tony Fretton, Jamie Fobert, Jun Aoki & Associates, Heneghan Peng and Norway’s Snøhetta working with Gareth Hoskins Architects to win the £35 million job.  

The studio will now work up detailed designs for the project which is expected to complete within the next five years.

Amanda Levete said: ‘The V&A is a hugely prestigious museum and it has special meaning for me because it’s the home of art and architecture.

‘I’ve dreamt of working on a major public and cultural project ever since I started as an architect, and it doesn’t get much better than this. This isn’t just about a gallery, it’s an opportunity to create a new public space for London – South Kensington’s Drawing Room.

‘The pattern of the courtyard derives from the structure and the richness of the V&A’s collection, and continues the didactic tradition of the V&A buildings. AL_A is a young office – we’ve only been established for two years – and for us this is a defining project because it expresses the way we think – for the V&A we’ve made the invisible visible.’

Paul Ruddock, V&A Board of Trustees chairman of the, said: ‘AL_A’s proposal will create a wonderful new space that cleverly combines the elegance of the V&A’s Grade I listed buildings with contemporary design. They are a worthy winner.’

Mark Jones, V&A director, added: ‘We are confident that AL_A are the right practice to lead this crucial V&A development and that they will create a building that will delight our visitors

‘We were very pleased by the quality of the international response to this project and I’d like to thank all of the shortlisted designers for the enormous amount of work which will have gone into creating such intelligent responses to this complex site.’

The judging panel chose the winner after examining all of the shortlisted schemes ‘in detail’, interviewing each of the teams, visiting their studios and previous projects and obtaining client references - according to the museum.

The shortlisted teams’ individual architectural models will be on display at the V&A’s Sackler Centre until 3 April.


Previous story 02.03.11

In pictures: V&A extension shortlist revealed

The AJ can reveal the proposals from the seven practices vying to design a new courtyard and underground extension to the V&A museum in Exhibition Road, West Kensington, London

Picked from 110 practices, the shortlist for the Boilerhouse Yard project is made up of Los Angeles-based Michael Maltzan Architecture, Tony Fretton, Jamie Fobert, Tokyo’s Jun Aoki & Associates, Amanda Levete, Heneghan Peng and Norway’s Snøhetta working with Gareth Hoskins Architects.

Due to be named at the end of the month, the victorious 1,500m2 scheme will sit on the proposed site of Daniel Libeskind’s £80 million ‘Spiral’ extension which was dropped in 2004 when the Heritage Lottery Fund refused to fund it.

Full shortlist:

Amanda Levete Architects (London)
Heneghan Peng Architects (Dublin)
Jamie Fobert Architects (London)
Jun Aoki & Associates (Tokyo)
Michael Maltzan Architecture (Los Angeles)
Snøhetta and Gareth Hoskins Architects (Oslo and Glasgow)
Tony Fretton Architects (London)

The project will create a new, purpose-built gallery housing the Museum’s temporary exhibitions, a public courtyard within the Grade 1 listed museum and a new entrance onto Exhibition Road through the Aston Webb screen.

Part of the V&A’s ongoing FuturePlan to transform the museum, the project aims to contribute to the development and semi-pedestrianisation of Exhibition Road led by The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The jury was led by V&A trustee and chair of the museum’s building strategy Steve McGuckin. The other judges were V&A director Mark Jones, Paul Ruddock the chairman of the V&A board of trustees, David Adjaye and Moira Gemmill, the V&A’s director of Projects and Design.

The contest was arranged and managed by Malcolm Reading Consultants and more information about the shortlisted schemes can be found here.


Last year the museum has invited 10 archtiects to work on designs for a hypothetical, concept scheme for the site. The practices were Stirling Prize-winner David Chipperfield, Tony Fretton Architects, Sutherland Hussey, Japanese stars SANAA, Jamie Fobert, Heneghan Peng, Norwegians Snøhetta, Amanda Levete, OMA and Francisco Mangado.

See AJ 29.01.10


Readers' comments (5)

  • Interesting, some of them seem notably more subdued since their Feasibility Study proposals though unfortunately. Fobert's is the most assured for me.

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  • Snohetta & Gareth Hoskins please. The others all look like shopping malls, and Tony Fretton's effort, ugly beyond belief.

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  • I agree snohetta and Gareth hoskins is the best in my view, wiv amanda levette in 2nd place

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  • Jane Blakeley

    Great news for Amanda Levette Architects, will await seeing the final design drawings with interest. A big plus a British Architect among a 50% international submissions should be the winner.


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  • I can't understand why all the trees shown in the design PR for this project had to be chopped down. They were a major feature of Exhibition Road and over 100 years old - now they've gone as part of a temporary construction site. A real shame as they should have been protected for the area.

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