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Diller Scofidio + Renfro wins £25m V&A collections centre

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New York practice Diller Scofidio + Renfro has won the Victoria and Albert Museum’s competition to design a £25 million collections centre on the Olympic Park in east London

The practice, working with Austin-Smith:Lord, won the estimated £1.75 million contract ahead of entries by 6a, Hoskins Architects, Haworth Tompkins with AOC, and Belgian outfit Robbrecht en Daem with DRDH. Images of the winning scheme have yet to be revealed.

The appointment comes just seven months after Diller Scofidio + Renfro landed one of most significant new commissions in the UK: designing a major concert hall on the Museum of London site next to the Barbican.

The winning team will draw up plans for a major new collection, research and learning hub inside the former Olympic Broadcasting Centre, which Hawkins\Brown is transforming into a £100 million commercial development, Here East (pictured), recently shortlisted for the AJ100 Building of the Year award.

The collections centre is an offshoot of the museum’s larger new V&A East outpost, part of the  £1.3 billion Olympicopolis district. The competition win comes eight months after the AJ revealed that height restrictions at the new cultural complex had forced the V&A to downsize its Stratford Waterfront presence and seek an overspill location nearby.

V&A chief operating officer and deputy director Tim Reeve said: ‘The field for this design competition was incredibly strong, featuring many of the best architecture practices from the UK, Europe and around the world.

‘The five shortlisted teams were all outstanding, presenting an exciting and high-quality range of proposals that tackled the brief with ingenuity, imagination and vision …

‘[Diller Scofidio + Renfro] clearly demonstrated their creativity and skill not only as transformative designers in the arts and museums world, but also as thought leaders in how audiences engage with objects and how collections can be made more publicly accessible.

‘We are all looking forward to working closely with Diller Scofidio + Renfro in the months ahead, to develop their winning concept into a place that will provide creative inspiration and opportunity for generations to come.’

Studio partner Elizabeth Diller said: ‘It is thrilling to contribute to a new wave of rethinking how London’s cultural institutions can reconnect to the city – from the Cultural Mile to the developments emerging in Queen Elizabeth Park.

‘We’re excited to start experimenting with the V&A on this new model for collection storage and public display at Here East. Planned from the inside-out, V&A East will be like stepping into an immersive cabinet of curiosities – a three-dimensional sampling of the eclectic collection of artefacts, programmed with diverse spaces for research, object study, workshops, and back-of-house functions.

‘We aspire to design an institution that invites the public to unpack and explore the depths of an otherwise hidden collection of remarkable things.’

V&A East is a major new outpost of the South Kensington museum. It is part of the Olympicopolis cultural district, for which Allies and Morrison, O’Donnell + Tuomey and Arquitecturia won an international contest three years ago.

The collections centre project will be 10 minutes’ walk away from V&A East, inside Here East. It follows the government’s disposal of V&A’s Blythe House collections store in west London. 

The two facilities will host a unified lineup of displays, research and learning activities, and public programmes. Recent acquisitions that could feature in either building include a three-storey section of Robin Hood Gardens purchased in November.

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