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Pawson's new home for Design Museum to open in November

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The Design Museum has announced that its long-awaited new home in the Commonwealth Institute will open on 24 November

PROJECT DATA

The £83 million transformation of the 1962 Grade II*-listed Commonwealth Institute, which is being overseen by John Pawson, had been pencilled in to complete in 2014 (see AJ 03.06.10).

This was rescheduled to ‘late 2015’ and on Friday (18 March) it was announced that the museum would finally open almost two years late this November. 

Delays to the scheme forced the museum to put back its planned departure from its base in Shad Thames, East London. The museum was set to shut the doors on its former 1940s banana warehouse home in 2015, but this will now happen in June ahead of the move to Kensington. 

Speaking about the delays, Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic, said: ‘Dealing with a 1960s building is not easy or straightforward. 

‘We would have like to have finished earlier but it has been steady progress’.

Deputy director Alice Black, added: ‘We found the building hadn’t been built in the way in which we expected. 

‘The engineering we had to go through is not something to be underestimated.’ 

Last year saw the building’s hyperbolic paraboloid roof suspended while a new basement and floor slabs were installed beneath it. 

The Commonwealth Institute was originally built for a fixed display of all the commonwealth member states. The building has had to be adapted to form temporary gallery spaces and to allow areas to be shut down and closed off. 

The new space will treble the museum’s galleries and restore the West London landmark which has stood empty for more than a decade. 

For the first time in the museum’s history it will have a free permanent display of its collection designed by Studio Myerscough and featuring a 6m-long wall of crowdsourced objects. 

The museum hopes its new home, which is John Pawson’s first public building, will increase visitor numbers from the current 250,000 to more than 650,000 each year. 

Commenting on the new museum, Sudjic commented: ‘At the Design Museum we need to do something to design like what the Tate Modern did for contemporary art. 

‘I see this building as a modern version of the Natural History Museum’s dinosaur hall. We have an icon already but we are bringing it back to life.’ 

The museum’s founder Terence Conran, added: ‘Since 1989 the museum has always led the way in and been the first to show some of the work and inspirations of many of the most important designers and architects on the planet. 

‘Today, we are about to move from Shad Thames to new, bigger premises in Kensington, where all our dreams and ambitions to create the vest and most important design museum in the world will become a step closer to reality. It will make my long lifetime in design absolutely worthwhile.’

Design Museum Kensington

Design Museum Kensington

Source: French + Tye

Project data

Location Kensington, West London
Type of project cultural
Client Design Museum
Architect John Pawson
Wayfinding and signage design Cartlidge Levene
Permanent exhibition design Studio Myerscough
Structural engineer Arup
Building control inspector Butler & Young
M&E consultant Chapman BDSP
Clerk of works Douglas Smith Construction Consultancy
Project manager Gardiner & Theobald
Planning consultant Gerald Eve
CDM advisor Jackson Coles
Cost management consultant Turner & Townsend
Fit-out contractor Wilmott Dixon Interiors
Cost £83 million
Area 10,000m2

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