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National Railway Museum York unveils shortlisted designs for new entrance hall

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The National Railway Museum has unveiled the five design concepts drawn up by the teams competing for the £16.5 million Central Hall project in York

Carmody Groarke, 6a architects and Feilden Fowles are joined by Dublin’s Heneghan Peng Architects and Atelier d’Architecture Philippe Prost of France on the shortlist for the 4,500m² scheme.

Each finalist with a compliant proposal will receive a £30,000 honorarium. A total of 76 teams applied for the opportunity.

The two-stage competition, organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants on behalf of the Science Museum Group, will select a team to create a 4,500m² structure connecting two existing exhibition spaces at the popular visitor attraction.

The £16.5 million project will improve circulation and create an ‘appealing and compelling arrival experience’ between the museum’s Great Hall and Station Hall. The shortlisted proposals will be exhibited in February and an overall winner will be announced in March.

Judith McNicol, director of the National Railway Museum, said: ‘I am very pleased to share the five design concepts for our new Central Hall, which will showcase our collection and future innovations from the rail industry in an inspirational, purpose-built gallery.

‘I encourage people to visit and to share their feedback. Although the final designs are some way off, the winning team will go on to create the final building, which will be the cultural focal point at the heart of York Central.’

Karen Livingstone, Science Museum Group director of masterplan and estate, said: ‘I am thrilled with the responses from all the finalist teams, which have exceeded our expectations in their variety and imagination.

‘All five have offered intriguing takes on form and materials, which respond to the brief in different ways, ranging from curvilinear to rectilinear shapes; which are by turns, strongly coloured, sensory and tactile.

‘I am particularly pleased that all five teams have taken seriously our ambition to create a sustainable building, which will be open for all and be part of the landscape of this historic site.’

Competition director Malcolm Reading said: ‘We always knew this was a very special shortlist – five exceptional small to medium-sized practices, from diverse backgrounds and brimming with talent.

‘These are charismatic design concepts – the best concepts here have the potential to be iconic, to catch the eye and hold it. The judging will be fascinating.’

The commission follows a review of timescales and phasing for the museum’s Vision 2025 regeneration masterplan. It comes a year after the museum abandoned an earlier search for a design team for a major £12 million overhaul of its Great Hall after the Heritage Lottery Fund rejected a funding application.

Separately, De Matos Ryan, Hayhurst & Co, Dutch practice Opera Amsterdam, new London firm Studio C102, and Tate Harmer have all been named on the shortlist for a new £3 million Wonderlab gallery at the museum. A winner has yet to be announced.

The National Railway Museum opened in 1975 on the former 8ha site of the York North Locomotive Depot. It features more than 100 locomotives and 200 other items of rolling stock. The museum is the largest of its type in the country and has 750,000 visitors a year.

Items on display include Stephenson’s Rocket, the record-breaking Mallard and the only Shinkansen Bullet Train outside Japan. Last year the museum shelved its search for a design team to revamp its 8,300m² Great Hall exhibition space, which has changed little since the museum opened.

The government awarded £18.5 million to the scheme last month as part of a £250 million boost to cultural projects across the UK.

The shortlist

  • 6a architects (UK) and OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen (Belgium)
  • Atelier d’Architecture Philippe Prost (France)
  • Carmody Groarke (UK)
  • Feilden Fowles (UK)
  • Heneghan Peng Architects (Ireland)
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