Coffey architects win Science Museum Research Centre competition with calm and welcoming environment for study
Coffey Architects announces they have won the competition to design the new Science Museum Research Centre. The new centre – planned to open by 2015 – will provide the Museum with a new kind of facility and enable a new level of integration between exhibitions and research. It will act as a portal to over 500,000 items contained within the Wroughton Library, including archive collections and original works, placing them at the fingertips of researchers, staff, academics and the general public. The new project will occupy the ground and first floors of the museum’s Wellcome Wolfson Building and is defined by two simple elements: the bookcase and the canopy. The bookcases create a warm and welcoming landscape for research. The canopy filters light and controls acoustics, creating a serene environment. The main focus of the library is the central reading room from which all activity is orientated. A small stair provides a direct connection to the bright upper mezzanine with common room and staff areas while below the mezzanine, a timber-lined research bar and private study areas are located amongst the main bookstacks. The entire room is bathed with dappled light from thousands of small oculi set within the double height translucent canopy above. Karen Livingstone, director of masterplan and estates at Science Museum Group, said: ‘We were hugely impressed by the approach of Coffey Architects, which proposes a light-filled, elegant reading room within the building.’ Practice director Phil Coffey said: ‘The scheme itself is a simple idea to recreate the feeling of sitting under a tree, on a summer’s day, reading a book. The proposed canopy will create light and acoustic conditions conducive for study, as well as offering a unique space with a strong identity to be enjoyed by both casual and academic users.’ The project is expected to start on site next spring.