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Sam Jacob wins V&A Cromwell Road Entrance contest


Sam Jacob Studio has won the Victoria and Albert Museum’s competition for a £2.25 million overhaul of its main entrance on Cromwell Road

The practice was chosen ahead of rival bids by Studio TILT, Nex, Gibson Thornley Architects and John Puttick Associates to win the estimated £225,000 contract for a phased transformation of the Grade I-listed venue’s main entrance rotunda.

The appointment comes one year after Sam Jacob Studio completed a V&A outpost in Shekou, Shenzhen – containing more than 250 objects from the museum’s permanent collection.

Philippa Simpson, acting director of design and FuturePlan said: ’We’re thrilled to be working with Sam Jacob on one of the most spectacular spaces in the museum. His vision for the entrance celebrates the material and structure of the listed building while creating closer connections to the street, the surrounding galleries and the rich collections they house, to provide an inspiring moment of arrival.’

The proposed upgrade to the museum’s Cromwell Road entrance follows the creation of an entrance courtyard and submerged exhibition space by AL_A fronting Exhibition Road around the corner in June 2017.

The first phase of the Cromwell Road project will redesign the imposing entrance’s glass doors and security bag check area. The second phase, planned to complete in 2020, will upgrade the rotunda’s entrance desk, furniture, cloakroom, toilets, lighting and heating.

In its brief, the museum described the entrance as an ‘iconic space’ which ‘has acted as a welcome and hub for visitors for over 100 years, not only as a point of orientation and visit planning, but as a centre for events of all types – Friday Lates, private views, donor receptions, curated performances.

‘Regular large-scale installations – and the long-term loan of the Chihuly chandelier – have made this a key site for the museum’s public programme. Our aim is to harness the potential of the impressive dome area while creating a space in which visitors feel at ease, are motivated to explore the museum further and are provided with everything they need to make the most of all the V&A has to offer.’

Founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the V&A is the world’s largest museum dedicated to design and the decorative arts with more than 2.3 million objects in its collection.

The main entrance upgrade project is latest to emerge from the museum’s high-profile FuturePlan renewal programme, which aims to harness the ‘best contemporary designers’ to improve visitor facilities inside the Grade I-listed Aston Webb-designed landmark.

Recently completed FuturePlan projects include a photography centre by David Kohn Architects, a £1 million shop by Friend and Company and a new members’ room by Carmody Groarke.

Other major projects in the pipeline include a £25 million collections centre by Diller Scofidio + Renfro for the V&A’s new outpost on the Olympic Park.

The main entrance upgrade aims to create an ‘outstanding visitor experience’ while also promoting design excellence and accessibility. The shortlisted teams each received a £1,000 honorarium and bids were evaluated 70 per cent on quality and 30 per cent on cost.

V&a image by diliff

V&a image by diliff


Readers' comments (3)

  • Yet another main entrance hall reVAmp for the VA? Only just reopened the reVAmped cast halls again!

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  • Talking of the 'security bag check area', I wonder how long the British Museum's Great Russell Street entrance court is going to be adorned with the current visitors' linear 'cattle pen' and entrance marquee?

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  • The Cast Courts, that you don't mention in article has had its first redisplay in 135 years and first full refurbishment since WWII damage. Designed by Metaphor with conservation architect Julian Harrap, it has taken eight years to complete and has been highly acclaimed in the general press.

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