The Museum of London is seeking a design team to create a £2 million ‘Deep Time’ gallery inside its new £332 million West Smithfield headquarters
The winning team will create a 540m² exhibition inside the ‘characterful’ underground vaults beneath the 1963 Poultry Market which – along with the neighbouring 1883 General Market building – is being transformed into a new home for the museum by Stanton Williams and Asif Khan.
The fitout is the second to be tendered as part of the wider museum development, and will create an ‘object-rich, narrative-driven, theatrical and interactive display area’ in the basement which was previously used for cold storing poultry. German studio Atelier Brückner was chosen to design the museum’s first fit-out commission involving a Past Time exhibition in September.
Museum of London director Sharon Ament called on bidders to ‘approach this brief with creativity, innovation and an understanding of the stories this place will tell.’ Ament said: ’Deep Time is about the magic of things and we want to create a sense of wonder and curiosity here.
‘We are open to challenges about our current thinking and want a design partner who will elevate our ideas to create a meaningful space that will really resonate with our visitors. The museum sees this as an opportunity to foster the talent and opportunity that abounds in the creative industries in London, the UK and indeed around the world.’
The ‘Deep Time’ design commission is the second fit-out opportunity to emerge from the Museum of London’s £332 million West Smithfield development. The winning team will create a new gallery in spaces beneath the 1963 TP Bennett and Ove Arup-designed Poultry Market which neighbours the General Market.
The new ‘storytelling, display and collection store’ space will open up the vaults of the building to the public for the first time. It will feature objects drawn from the museum’s collection ranging ‘from the human remains of some of the most ancient Londoners right through to costume, social and working history and art and photography.’
Stuttgart firm Atelier Brückner was selected ahead of five rival bidders to win the museum’s first fit-out commission in September. They were: ZMMA; Casson Mann; Nissen Richards Studio; New York and London-based Ralph Appelbaum Associates; and David Kohn Architects.
Atelier Brückner will create a Past Time exhibition within the vaults beneath the historic 1883 General Market building in West Smithfield, which Stanton Williams and Asif Khan are transforming into a new home for the museum.
The £7.5 million project was the first gallery to be commissioned for the venue, which will eventually contain more than six million items showcasing a 2,000-year-history of London. The 2,500m² gallery will also display a live railway as the Thameslink line passes through part of the site and a see-through section of tunnel is planned within the vaults.
Stanton Williams and Asif Khan, working with conservation expert Julian Harrap, won the contest to design the museum’s new home in July 2016. After three years spent refining their proposals and investgating the complex site, the design team finally began public consultation on their detailed plans last summer.
At the same time the museum also revealed the scheme would now cost £332 million – more than double the original competition budget. The Museum of London blamed the cost hike on an increase in floor space and a change in layout after buildings next door to the main 1880s General Market building became available. The museum’s opening is expected to be 2024 – three years later than originally planned.
Meanwhile, plans to transform the current Museum of London site at the Barbican into a £288 million concert hall by Diller Scofidio + Renfro were unveiled in January 2019. That scheme was given a boost last year when culture secretary Nicky Morgan granted the Museum of London and Bastion House buildings – both designed by post-war British practice Powell & Moya – certificates of immunity from listing.
In January, Studio Egret West and Hawkins\Brown won a pair of competitions to regenerate the City of London Corporation’s Grade II*-listed Smithfield wholesale market complex. The project will transform the 150-year-old Horace Jones-designed East and West Market buildings – which are next door to the disused Poultry Market and currently used for trading meat – into a mixed-use commercial, creative and cultural quarter.
Start-ups and SMEs are encouraged to apply for the latest ‘Deep Time’ commission and respond to the brief either individually or in partnership. The deadline for applications is midday, 6 July.
How to apply
View the contract notice for more information
Museum of London
150 London Wall
Tel: +44 2078145676