• Jpn020-design-museum-view04

    New Design Museum, Exterior view. John Pawson Ltd Image by Alex Morris Visualisation

  • Jpn020-design-museum-view01

    New Design Museum, Entrance Foyer. John Pawson Ltd Image by Alex Morris Visualisation

  • Jpn020-design-museum-view02

    New Design Museum, Second Floor. John Pawson Ltd Image by Alex Morris Visualisation

  • Jpn020-design-museum-view03

    New Design Museum, Second Floor, showing the Permanent Exhibition. John Pawson Ltd Image by Alex Morris Visualisation

  • Para-2-credit-luke-hayes

    Photo credit – Luke Hayes

  • Para-4-credit-luke-hayes

    Photo credit – Luke Hayes

  • Para-13-credit-luke-hayes

    Photo credit – Luke Hayes

Graphic Design

The New Design Museum

Posted by Rob Alderson,

I have put on record (if by record you mean Twitter) how much I adore the Design Museum and had some reservations about its move to Kensington High Street planned for 2014. But any doubts were blown away this morning as a panel including founder Sir Terence Conran, director Deyan Sudjic and architect John Pawson unveiled their ambitious plans for the iconic old Commonwealth Institute building, set to be transformed as part of the £80 million project.

The enthusiasm from all involved was plain to see at today’s press launch, with the new building set to treble the exhibition space (to 10,000 sq feet) and double the audience to an estimated 500,000 million people a year. For the first time ever, the Design Museum’s permanent collection will be on display.

Sir Terence Conran said they had to move from their current Shad Thames location because “we were full to the brim and bursting at the seams” and revealed they had been looking for the right new site for five years.

“The Commonwealth Institute is such an inspirational building – it altered the way many architects thought about design," he said.

“In this dour moment financially and in terms of employment we know the role design can play in giving us a new energy in this country. In Scandinavia design is part of their DNA. We have not achieved that here but we ought to."

He wants it to be “a great showplace” for the designers and products that define British design and added: “Sadly we are no longer the workshop of the world and never will be again but we can be a workshop and the new Design Museum will help us be a better one.”

Deyan Sudjic called the move a “unique chance” for the Design Museum and vowed the new space could do, “for contemporary design what Tate Modern did for contemporary art.”

“We are on the brink of something extraordinary,” he said. “John Pawson has the ability to very quietly give the building a new life and a new dignity in a subtle but powerful way.”

The Grade II listed building is a jaw-dropping example of post war British modernism with a hyperbolic paraboloid roof, with which Mr Pawson is clearly relishing working.

He said: “The challenge is working inside the skin of an existing building. The Commonwealth Institute is iconic, although I am not supposed to use that word these days. It’s over 50 years old but still to me seems very daring.

“The roof is extraordinary. It soars up to the highest point 16 metres over your head.”

The architect explained he saw his role as “more about retuning the existing architecture so it feels fresh” and to give Deyan and his team “everything they need to function as a world class museum.”

He said he will deliberately keep the palette “calm and quiet” using concrete and hardwoods to accentuate the natural light they want to flood the space as much as possible.

“The main thing is to retain and enhance all the spatial qualities of the building,” he said.

In a video message, Apple’s Jonathan Ive welcomed this new chapter for the “uniquely inspiring” museum.

He said: “Design as a process ultimately defines so much of our life and so much of our culture so good design is terribly important.

“The Design Museum has played a critical role over the past 20 years. The challenges we face as designers are becoming more complex and the implications of poor design more significant, so it is absolutely appropriate the museum is expanding its ambition.”

The residential development alongside the new museum has been designed by OMA, with Rainier de Graaf saying he and his colleagues loved 1960s architecture and that their role had been “an exercise in being humble – to fade into the background for once.”

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Rob joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in July 2011 before becoming Editor-in-Chief and working across all editorial projects including itsnicethat.com, Printed Pages, Here and Nicer Tuesdays. Rob left It’s Nice That in June 2015.

Most Recent: Architecture View Archive

  1. John-pawson-design-museum-its-nice-that-list

    The Design Museum’s new Kensington home sees its interior fit-out begin today, with Willmott Dixon Interiors delivering John Pawson’s designs. The new site will include two temporary exhibition spaces, a permanent collection display, learning spaces, design workshops, a library, an auditorium, a museum shop, a café and a restaurant. Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic says: “This is a truly exciting moment, as we take possession of this remarkable building and see it transformed into a museum for the twenty-first century. A huge amount of hard work has gone in to getting the museum to this stage and we are extremely grateful to all of our funders and supporters for their generosity.”

  2. Dreamland-margate-itsnicethat-list

    It’s been a long 11-year slog for the Save Dreamland campaign, but after more than a decade of work and a £30 million regeneration, the UK’s oldest theme park reopens today under the very capable eye of Wayne Hemingway, founder of Hemingway Design. It’s a dream project for the multi-disciplinary designer, who started off selling second-hand Dr Martens boots on a stall at Camden market, as he told us at Here London in 2013. He has since founded fashion house Red or Dead, collaborated with companies including Sainsbury’s and Coca-Cola, and worked on a number of large-scale architectural redevelopments with his wife Gerardine.

  3. Josh_haywood_arbour_itsnicethat_list

    With new-build apartments and houses popping up all over the landscape at incredible speed, it’s so interesting to see a project that focuses on true artistry and craft in architecture. Following on from the Hayam Sun Temple Josh Haywood and his team built last year at Burning Man festival in Nevada, the team hopes to construct a new installation titled Arbour.

  4. Kings_cross_pavilions_itsnicethat_list

    Two striking pavilions have been added to the King’s Cross landscape by four Irish architecture studios as part of this year’s London Festival of Architecture. The Red Pavilion was designed as a collaboration between TAKA, Clancy Moore Architects and Steve Larkin Architects, who all share a studio in Dublin. Sat alongside is the Yellow Pavilion created by Belfast-based Hall McKnight.

  5. Assemble_brutalist_playground_it's_nice_that_list

    Architecture collective Assemble and photographer Simon Terrill have resurrected an almost forgotten piece of post-war British design: the outdoor playgrounds of Brutalist housing estates. The wildcard Turner prize nominees Assemble have brought their characteristic playfulness to the strange and surreal concrete playgrounds of the 50s, 60s and 70s by recreating large-scale fragments in reconstituted, freckled foam and Memphis-esque pastels inside the Royal Institute of British Architecture in London. Continuing their work with public spaces the collaborators have dug into RIBA’s housing archives for an installation that deliberately lacks the fundamental austerity of Brutalist design and virtually undoes – either for better or for worse – everything these gestures of failed utopia represent.

  6. Arts-admin-treexoffice-its-nice-that-list

    East London’s Hoxton Square is temporarily home to a treehouse office, as part of the London Festival of Architecture. But as Nathan Barley as it all sounds, it’s actually not all that bonkers an idea, and was devised as a way of exploring how we can sustain and enhance public open spaces. The project was produced by Artsadmin and created by Natalie Jeremijenko in collaboration with artists Shuster + Moseley, architects Tate Harmer and briefing architects Gensler, and comprises eight workspaces for “creative workers” and community groups, who can hire it throughout the installation’s seven month tenure. It’s made of compressed paper with see-through plastic and translucent polycarbonate making up the outer walls, aiming to “blur the boundary between office and nature.”

  7. Pagantempleiceland-itsnicethat-1

    A neo-Pagan temple is being built on an unassuming plot of land on the outskirts of Reykjavik. Liv Siddall went to meet those whose visions are taking shape…

  8. Kings-cross-pond-ooze-architects-its-nice-that-list

    I’ve slid down an art installation before thanks to Carsten Höller, and I’ve frolicked about in a room full of balloons thanks to Martin Creed, but never before had I literally swum in art until this morning. Bright and early, there I was shivering in art, thanks to a bathing pond art installation in a building site in London’s King’s Cross. The piece, formally known as Of Soil and Water: the King’s Cross Pond Club , was created by Ooze Architects (Eva Pfannes and Sylvain Hartenberg) and artist Marjetica Potrč, and takes the form of a natural, chemical-free pool, complete with plants and bushes. And who knows what else – I didn’t dare think what one day could be lurking in there after the maggoty old python Hampstead Heath ponds story of a few years back. 

  9. Serpentine-pavilion-int-list

    SelgasCano’s colourful, experimental designs for this year’s Serpentine Pavilion wouldn’t look out of place at Glastonbury’s kids’ tent, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The structure, which will be in place from 25 June until 18 October, is made of materials including plastic fabric and webbing, forming a huge tunnel-like construction that forms a “journey through the space, characterised by colour, light and irregular shapes with surprising volumes,” according to the architects. SelgasCano is copmrised of Spanish architects José Selgas and Lucía Cano, and is based in Madrid. This will be the 15th Serpentine Pavilion commission, with previous designs by architects including Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry.

  10. Thomasheatherwick-studio-nanyanguniversity-int-list

    Whenever I get invited to give a talk at a university I have a pang of jealousy about people spending their days doing creative things (and their evenings drinking in subsidised bars). But it’s fair to say that architecturally speaking, higher education tends to be pretty functional, unless you go to the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore that is. They have just opened their new Learning Hub building designed by Thomas Heatherwick, which comprises 12 tapered towers and an interlocking network of social spaces. The architect says he was motivated by exactly the kind of underwhelming university structures I mentioned above – “unappealing spaces with endless corridors, no natural daylight and only hints of other people’s presence.”

  11. List

    Having only once covered the work of Californian architect Michael Jantzen on the site, it seems about time we provided a little more context to his work and showed off one of his seminal pieces. The M-House is a portable modular system through which multiple iterations of a structure can be made. It consists of a series of rectangular panels, attached by hinges to a gridded frame, that can be moved and manipulated to serve a variety of functions, both structural and decorative. Each new structure can be built to unique specifications so that no M-House needs to look the same. Michael’s intention was that these buildings could serve as a holiday home or as an impressive complex of modular retreats in a single resort. So why hasn’t anyone built this resort yet? Better than Butlins.

  12. List-klmairbnb_02

    Being on a plane overnight can have its merits. Watching a tonne of terrible films, wearing strange towelling socks, having your dinner brought over by someone who’s paid to be lovely to you and wear lots of blusher. It can also have its oft-bemoaned downsides, unhappy and vocal children, being one; lack of sleep being another. However, a night on a plane has taken on something of a different dynamic thanks to a project that’s seen one KLM plane masquerading as a loft apartment, with interior designs by Dutch design consultancy TANK that belie its origins in favour of a very much homely approach.

  13. List

    In recent years the 2012 Olympic Torch, the UK government website and the Plumen lightbulb have scooped the Design Museum’s prestigious Designs of the Year title; last night Zaha Hadid’s Azerbajani cultural centre joined the illustrious list.