This morning, a batch of images showing how the new Design Museum will look were unveiled at a press event in Kensington.
The museum is moving into the old Commonwealth Institute, a 1960s Modernist masterpiece that has been sorely neglected since it closed in 2003, and a building that makes a nice fit for a museum dedicated to all things design. Happily, the interior remodelling, undertaken by John Pawson (himself the subject of a retrospective at the Museum’s current Shad Thames home in 2010) respects the Grade II*-listed building as much as possible, with the distinctive hyperbolic paraboloid roof becoming the focal point of the space. The existing interior walkways and the central performance stage have been removed entirely, and the building will accommodate a cafe, auditorium, three temporary and one permanent exhibition galleries, a library and an education space.
Outside, the moat and flagpoles have gone, replaced by a newly landscaped entrance garden. There’s not much room in these images for the rest of the site, which involves a trio of residential units designed by OMA that have the unfortunate effect of boxing in the Museum and concealing it from the main road. Yet that aside it’s a win for both parties: a beautiful but neglected building is returned to public uses, while relocating from a difficult-to-reach warehouse along the Thames to the outskirts of London’s major gallery hub should give the Museum a much higher profile, and help with the goal of turning it into one of the finest design collections in the world.
The new museum, which is to cots £80m, is set to open in 2014.