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6a and Carmody Groarke shortlisted for National Railway Museum Central Hall

The shortlist: National Railway Museum Central Hall
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6a architects and Carmody Groarke are among five teams competing for a new £16.5 million Central Hall at the National Railway Museum in York

The shortlist is completed by Dublin’s Heneghan Peng architects, Atelier d’Architecture Philippe Prost of France and London-based Feilden Fowles. A total of 76 teams applied for the opportunity.

The two-stage competition – organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants on behalf of the Science Museum Group – will select a team to create a 4,500m² structure connecting two existing exhibition spaces at the popular visitor attraction.

The £16.5 million project will improve connectivity and create a new ‘appealing and compelling arrival experience’ between the museum’s Great Hall and Station Hall. The five five teams will receive a honorarium of £30,000 each to participate in the competition’s second stage. The shortlisted proposals will be exhibited in February and an overall winner will be announced in March.

Judith McNicol, director of the National Railway Museum, said: ‘Announcing the shortlist for Central Hall marks an important milestone in the realisation of Vision 2025 — our exciting and ambitious £55 million plan to transform and reimagine the National Railway Museum. I am looking forward to seeing the design concepts and sharing these with our visitors and the communities around us.’

Karen Livingstone, Science Museum Group director of masterplan and estate, said: ‘We were delighted and impressed by the strongly international response to the design competition. The shortlist is a refreshing, highly original list of accomplished studios known for their flair with cultural projects and we await with interest how they will respond to our brief in the second stage.’

Competition director Malcolm Reading said: ‘The National Railway Museum is focused on bringing exceptional architecture to this site and creating an engaging and inspiring experience from the moment the visitor approaches the museum.

‘This is a very encouraging moment for architecture in the UK: a diverse set of exemplary small to medium-sized practices given the opportunity to compete for a commission that will be emblematic for this national museum and York itself.’

The commission follows a review of time-scales and phasing for the museum’s Vision 2025 regeneration masterplan. It comes a year after the museum abandoned an earlier search for a design team for a major £12 million overhaul of its Great Hall after the Heritage Lottery Fund rejected a funding application.

Separately De Matos Ryan, Hayhurst & Co, Dutch practice Opera Amsterdam, new London firm Studio C102, and Tate Harmer were all named on the shortlist for a new £3 million Wonderlab gallery at the museum earlier this week. An overall winner is expected to be announced at the end of this month.

The National Railway Museum opened in 1975 on the former 8.1ha site of the York North Locomotive Depot. It features more than 100 power cars and 200 other items of rolling stock. The museum is the largest of its type in the country and has 750,000 visitors a year.

Items on display include Stephenson’s Rocket, the record-breaking Mallard and the only Shinkansen Bullet Train outside Japan. Last year the museum shelved its search for a design team to revamp its 8,300m² Great Hall exhibition space, which has changed little since the museum opened.

The previous Great Hall scheme was intended as the first phase of a wider regeneration masterplan for the city-centre museum scheduled to finish in 2025 but was put on hold after failing to achieve Heritage Lottery Fund support.

The latest project, focussing on the creation of a new Central Hall, will create a landmark new entrance space featuring a 1,000m² gallery intended to boost visitor numbers at the attraction to 1.2 million every year. The government awarded £18.5 million to the scheme last month as part of a £250 million boost to cultural projects across the UK. 

The full shortlist

  • 6a architects (UK) and OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen (Belgium)
  • Atelier d’Architecture Philippe Prost (France)
  • Carmody Groarke (UK)
  • Feilden Fowles (UK)
  • Heneghan Peng Architects (Ireland)
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