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Rumours over museums at Old Oak Common prompt design contest hopes

Science Museum in London. Image by Science Museum SSPL 2014
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Preliminary talks between the Science Museum and Natural History Museum over a potential Old Oak Common outpost have raised hopes of a future design competition

The prestigious South Kensington museums confirmed they were in early talks over a possible combined move to the mayor’s Old Oak Common regeneration site last week.

In a joint statement the museums said: ‘We can confirm that the Science Museum and Natural History Museum have had discussions regarding Old Oak Common but they are at a very preliminary stage and, at this point of time, the business case still needs to be made.’

The surprise revelation follows a flurry of high-profile competitions held by the two museums in recent years and has led to speculation a further competition may be held if the Old Oak Common outpost idea reaches fruition.

Although negotiations around the potential facility remain in the very early stages architects have reacted positively to the possibility of a competition.

Phil Coffey of Coffey Architects – whose competition-winning £1.8 million library and research centre inside the Science Museum is due to open this spring – welcomed the move. 

He said: ’It’s a great opportunity and they are a great client to work with. Who wouldn’t want to work on a project like that?’

Liza Fior of Muf architecture/art – which defeated NORD Architecture, Grimshaw, Farshid Moussavi Architecture, Universal Design Studio and David Kohn Architects in the Science Museum’s contest for a £4 million interactive gallery in 2014 – also praised the client.

She commented: ‘The Science museum are extremely skilled at running competitions with strong briefs - we enjoyed taking part in the last one we did- which is now on site. The Science Museum as an organisation is far more than the building in South Kensington .

’The store and those who work there could be a rich resource for a neighbourhood, it’s schools and those who visit.’

David Kohn of David Kohn Architects added: ’We have been shortlisted for several Science Museum gallery projects - the library and interactive gallery - and would be very interested in working with the museum on making more of its collection accessible.

’There is a growing interest within the museum world in recovering extraordinary objects from languishing in the dark and it would be great to see what the Science Museum has been keeping under wraps.’

According to the Evening Standard, the museum’s combined 50,000m² outpost could form the centrepiece of a new cultural quarter planned for a 19 hectare site currently occupied by Cargiant.

Previous plans for the site included creating a new stadium for local football club Queens Park Rangers.

Up to 25,000 new homes and 55,000 new jobs are expected to be delivered on land surrounding a new Crossrail and HS2 interchange in Old Oak Common.

Last year the head of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation Victoria Hills said that she ‘expects’ there to be a contest for the High Speed 2 station within the west London zone.

In March, the science museum is expected to announce the winner of its latest contest for a ‘new, generous and contemporary entrance’.

Farshid Moussavi Architecture, HAT Projects, Pringle Richards Sharrett, Stanton Williams and Universal Design Studio are all shortlisted for the project which will be constructed inside a 1,200m² former Royal Mail building.

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