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Six shortlisted in Museum of London underground gallery contest

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The Museum of London has announced the six finalists competing to design a subterranean gallery within its new £180 million West Smithfield headquarters

The shortlist comprises ZMMA, Casson Mann, Nissen Richards Studio, Germany’s Atelier Brückner, New York and London-based Ralph Appelbaum Associates, and David Kohn Architects.

The winning team will create a Past Time exhibition within the vaults (pictured) that lie beneath the historic 1883 General Market building in West Smithfield, which Stanton Williams and Asif Khan are transforming into a new home for the museum.

The £7.5 million project is the first gallery to be commissioned for the venue, which will contain more than six million items showcasing a 2,000-year-history of London. The 2,500m² gallery will also display a live railway as the Thameslink line passes through part of the site and a seethrough section of tunnel is planned within the vaults.

The exhibition will explore London in Time, London Life, and The Physical City, while also featuring the Cheapside Hoard, a collection of 16th and 17th-century jewellery discovered in 1912.

Museum of London project director Alec Shaw said the judging panel was ‘impressed by the breadth and creativity of the responses from the six shortlisted design partners.

‘We asked for innovative approaches for an object-rich, narrative-driven and theatrical display space that will make the most of the London Collection, which includes everything from ancient Londoners to costume to social history and art.

‘We have a difficult but exciting decision to make now but with such an impressive shortlist we’re in the best position possible.’

A shortlist will be selected this summer prior to the announcement of an overall winner in September.

Stanton Williams and Asif Khan, working with conservation expert Julian Harrap, won the contest to design the museum’s new home in July 2016.

It will be constructed on the 25,000m² West Smithfield site, which comprises a series of vacant, mostly Victorian, buildings. The plans involve retaining many of these buildings, including a dome.

The latest plans are expected to go out to public consultation this July. Subject to planning, it is scheduled to open in 2024.

The existing Smithfield Market, which traces its history back nearly a thousand years, will continue unaffected by the proposals.

Plans to transform the current Museum of London site into a £288 million concert hall by Diller Scofidio + Renfro were unveiled in January.

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