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Boris backs Museum of London architectural competition

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The Museum of London is to hold an architectural competition to find a ‘world-class’ designer for its new home at Smithfield Market after mayor Boris Johnson agreed £200,000 funding

The museum has been working with John McAslan + Partners on feasibility work but said in March that it wanted to run an international contest to find a designer to mastermind its new home, which is due to open in 2021 and is likely to be up to 460m² larger than its current home at London Wall.

Last Thursday Johnson signed off a £200,000 grant to fund the competition along with the creation of a strategic brief and a procurement and management plan.

Original plans to convert the General Market building site into an office and retail scheme under designs also worked up by McAslan were thrown out by communities secretary Eric Pickles in July (AJ 08.07.14).

A Greater London Authority document dated last Thursday said: ‘The museum now needs to run an architectural competition to appoint an architect and other consultants who will develop the design of the new museum to concept stage. A detailed strategic brief articulating space requirements, and a procurement and management plan to manage the new museum project will also be completed in October 2015.’

It added that the architectural brief would consider issues including ‘affordability, accessibility, environmental sustainability as well as world-class design’ and said the work would also assist the museum’s fundraising campaign.

Boris Johnson said: ‘The Museum of London tells the incredible story of this great city through its unique and exceptional collection. The London 2012 cauldron, the head of Serapis found in the Temple of Mithras, the Cheapside Hoard and the original lift from Selfridges are just some of the objects held by this cultural gem, but it desperately needs more space.

‘In its new home at Smithfield General Market the Museum of London will be able to unleash its full potential to attract millions of people each year and work with even more schoolchildren.’

Munira Mirza, deputy mayor for education and culture, added: ‘The Museum of London is a hugely important cultural asset for our city…A new home at Smithfield General Market is a brilliant idea, and will ensure the museum becomes a must see destination for visitors, not just from London, but also the UK and the rest of the world.’

A Museum of London spokesperson said: ‘Our ambition is to create a new museum to meet the needs of Londoners and visitors to London, the world’s greatest city. We want to do this by 2021. We do not currently have the space to present our collections properly, or demonstrate the research behind them. Our visitor numbers have doubled in recent years and continue to grow; our schools programme is at capacity.

‘Our aspiration is to work with creative and inspired architects who have an acute sensitivity to the site and who can connect with the spirit of London to create a truly charismatic new museum, they will be appointed via a competition funded by the GLA. We will begin the process of procurement shortly with the aim of having a team in place early 2016.’


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