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Libeskind's Spiral on track as V&A begins £150m overhaul

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Work on Daniel Libeskind's long-awaited Spiral for London's V&A could begin next year along with a comprehensive £150 million makeover of the museum. V&A director Mark Jones pledged his commitment to Libeskind's £50 million building last week. Jones said £31 million was already in place and he was entirely confident the rest would be raised from the Heritage Lottery Fund and private donations.

The five-storey structure - a series of asymmetrical, interlocking blocks sandwiched between the Victorian museum - has full planning permission and the backing of English Heritage.

Construction of the Spiral will proceed in tandem with a major overhaul of the museum.

The masterplan is by Metaphor - initiated by Stephen Greenfield and Catherine Hanway in the spring of 2000 when they were still with DEGW - and Eva Jiricna as the principal architect.

The idea behind the 10-year plan is 'to work with the grain of the building', Jones said. And while the 5ha site presented difficulties, it also had great qualities. 'Our plan will emphasis these qualities and in so doing make the whole museum more enjoyable and easy to understand, ' Jones said.

Key to the plan will be to open up the heart of the museum and make the under-utilised central garden the focus for public activities. Jiricna will now produce detailed designs to open up the galleries around the garden to create a cloistered space with clear routes into it. She will also be charged with improving the main entrance hall on Cromwell Road, the shop and sculpture garden.

Jiricna said she would be reinterpreting the space, not rebuilding it. 'We are starting with the tone of the building to enhance it and to improve the architecture and its qualities, ' she said. Other work will include new galleries for the medieval and renaissance collections, restoration of the north and south courts and the development of a learning zone.

Other practices working on sites around the museum include Gareth Hoskins Architects, which is creating the Architecture for All gallery - a joint project with the RIBA - and Wright and Wright Architects, which is restoring the archive stores and study rooms in the Henry Cole wing.

A newly completed contemporary gallery by Gareth Hoskins Architects opens this week.

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