The RIBA is set to hold a competition to find an architect or exhibition designer to fit out an 'enormous' space in the Victoria & Albert Museum, newly allocated by its trustees for a jointly run architecture gallery.
Baz Dickson, the RIBA's man in charge of the project, told the AJ this week that the institute will look to invite about eight teams to compete on the project, which will take its place alongside Wright and Wright's plans for a new home for the drawings collection elsewhere in the museum. That practice's earlier £5 million plan was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund in a bid for a grant of £3.35 million, but in the light of the trustees' additional allocation of space following the completion of DEGW's masterplan, the bid has been withdrawn.
Dickson estimates that the new fit-out of the gallery - which is in a prominent place on the first floor of the South Kensington museum facing Cromwell Road - will bump up the project to around £8 million. It will be around four times the size of the Institute's Heinz Gallery and will be a 'contemporary' design. 'We think it's a very exciting development to create a gallery in such a superb space, ' said Dickson. 'It's become quite a large project as our concept has matured.'
The space will be a general introduction to architecture for the public, with educational facilities and multimedia. Wright and Wright is expected to be one of the invited teams.
A new bid for funding will be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund by the end of June, and the two parties hope for a decision by the end of the year.
The gallery is intended to be ready by the end of 2003, before the proposed completion of Daniel Libeskind's part-funded Spiral.