AOC has won a publically tendered contract for an £8.5 million overhaul of public spaces within the landmark National Archives complex in Kew, south-west London
The studio was chosen ahead of five unnamed rival teams for the prestigious 7,300m² commission inside the 1976 Brutalist complex overlooking the River Thames.
The project is the final phase of a regeneration masterplan drawn up by AOC, and will deliver a new Hall of Archives providing improved public access to the nation’s archives, a new flexible gallery space and upgraded public facilities.
Last year AOC completed the first phase, a new ground-floor restaurant, and this year it completed the second phase, an events space.
Caroline Ottaway-Searle, director of public engagement at The National Archives said: ‘The National Archives is changing. As a destination of national significance we want to offer an environment that is distinctive, vibrant and welcoming. We want to create flexible memorable spaces for more people to engage with our nation’s history, opening up our unrivalled collection as never before, and doubling visitors.
‘At Kew (and beyond) we want to provide stimulating and rewarding experiences for researchers, families, students, volunteers and communities, bringing fresh insights and challenging the way that people think about archives.
‘AOC have an impressive track record delivering inspirational museum and archive projects, helping institutions to improve public engagement with their collections. We are delighted they are now our design partner and will be an essential member of our team as we turn our vision into reality.’
The 1976 building was designed by the UK government’s Property Services Agency, and echoed the style of Denys Lasdun’s National Theatre further along the Thames. A 13,500m² extension was added in the 1990s.
The complex houses the official archive of the UK government and for England and Wales dating back more than 1,000 years. Items held include original copies of the Domesday Book and Magna Carta, and William Gladstone’s 19th-century despatch box.
Artist’s impression of the National Archives in 1975
Structural Engineer: Momentum
Services Engineer: Synergy
Quantity Surveyor: Stockdale
Graphic Design: Objectif
Content Producer: Strategic Communications
CDM: Pierce Hill Project Services
Approved Inspector: Assent