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Block Architecture has won a battle of the starlets with these designs for a new contemporary art exhibition space at the V&A Museum in west London, seeing off three other AJ/Corus 40 Under 40 practices in the process.

Block faced stiff competition from a shortlist which included Moxon Architects, Surface Architects and Francesco Draisci - all of whom exhibited at the AJ/Corus 40 Under 40 show in 2005. The brief was to design a 'neutral envelope for expression' within the existing Aston Webb interior of the museum's Cromwell Road building, which presented Block with a number of structural challenges. The entrance was particularly important, allowing the practice to 'shift the perception from the V&A proper to the contemporary exhibitions'. According to the -firm, the entrance also started to be seen as an aperture or 'viewfinder' through which the collections were seen, giving the exhibitions a context. The proposal is essentially a freestanding envelope - 'a building within a building', says Block. The shell is a lightweight structure clad in black carbon-fibre sheeting. The project should complete by September 2007.

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