Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

First look inside the Design Museum’s £80m new home

  • Comment

The Design Museum has released these construction shots inside John Pawson’s £80 million overhaul of the grade II*-listed Commonwealth Institute

The 1962 RMJM tent-like landmark in Kensington, which has stood empty for more than a decade, will become the new home for the museum once it relocates from its current base in Shad Thames, east London later next year.

The move to the Commonwealth Institute building will see the museum increase its space threefold. The building, which is being transformed by John Pawson, will include two temporary exhibition spaces, a permanent collection display, learning spaces, workshops, a library, and auditorium, shop, café and restaurant.

Fit-out of the museum, with exhibition designs by AJ Small Projects-shortlisted Studio Myerscough, is set to start in October.

The Design Museum will shut its doors at the Shad Thames site in late 2015, reopening at the new Kensington site in 2016.

Previous story (AJ 24.01.12)

Pawson reveals £80m Commonwealth Institute rebirth

John Pawson has revealed these images of his proposed conversion of the Grade II* listed Commonwealth Institute (CI) building, west London, into the new home for the Design Museum

The £80 million proposals will see the museum move from its current home in Shad Thames, east London into the refurbished 1962 RMJM tent-like landmark, which has stood empty for more than a decade.

Pawson’s design team for the new project has been helped by Roger Cunliffe, a ‘leading member’ of the original architectural team for the CI in 1958, and by James Sutherland, the building’s original structural engineer.

The museum hopes to open its doors to the public in 2014 and double its visitor number to 500,000 a year with an ‘expanded education and public events programme’.

The museum’s founder,Terence Conran described its existing base near Tower Bridge as ‘full to the brim and bursting at the seams’ and said he relished the opportunity to move to west London’s Albertropolis, in what is regarded as the territory of the V & A.

Pawson’s scheme has been halied as ‘a soft touch approach, using a quiet palette of materials, including terrazzo and hardwood floors’. The proposals will also make the north and south facades more transparent and, working with structural engineer Arup, features new openings in the floors of the five-storey museum, which will open up new views of its original hyperbolic paraboloid roof.

Plans were submitted for the scheme, which sits within a larger development of the site designed by Rem Koolhaas’ OMA, before Christmas (2011). Pawson

Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum, said ‘This is an important step forward for the Design Museum. We are very excited by all the work that John Pawson and the rest of the design team have done.

‘They have put forward a brilliant strategy to bring the former Commonwealth Institute back to life, which will allow the public to see the essential qualities of this historic listed buildin, and make a wonderful new home for the Design Museum.’


The architect’s view - John Pawson
‘The most exciting thing about the project is that, at the end of it all, London will have a world-class museum of design, with galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions, education spaces and a library. There is particularly nice symbolism in the fact that in making this legacy for future generations, we are saving a work of iconic architecture. I hope the result will demonstrate that you don’t need to demolish old buildings to make wonderful new public space.’


  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.