In December 2007, along with five other architectural firms, OMA was invited by Chelsfield deputy chairman Sir Stuart Lipton to consider the potential of the Commonwealth Institute site. OMA’s proposal sought to save the grade II* listed building by reinjecting life into the modernist monument, the new home for London’s Design Museum, while retaining its distinctive copper roof and parabolic form. OMA with Allies and Morrison were the architects responsible for the design of the refurbished structural shell and external envelope of the building. The project required a close working relationship with Design Museum interior architects, John Pawson.
Significant and complex refurbishment works were carried out, including the wholesale reconfiguration of the structure and basement excavation to increase floor area and organisational efficiency to suit the needs of the Design Museum, while balancing the retention of the dramatic views to the underside as agreed with heritage officers. The refurbishment was realised while retaining the renowned parabolic copper roof in-situ, which required significant engineering skill from Arup and the contractor, Mace.
The facades have been completely replaced to fulfil contemporary technical building standards. The glazing was redesigned and replaced to retain the pattern of the fenestration and the blue-glass appearance of the original RHWL building. This new system permits controlled daylight into and views out of future museum spaces. Original stained glass panels were removed, refurbished and reinstated to be enjoyed by future visitors to the Museum.
The setting of the Design Museum has been designed with landscape architects West 8. Original features of the Commonwealth Institute have been painstakingly researched and reinterpreted back into the contemporary design with significant trees retained along the edge of Holland Park and Kensington High Street.
The Commonwealth Institute refurbishment project has been realised as an essential part of the adjacent Holland Green development by Chelsfield LLP and Ilchester Estates, a striking arrangement of three stone cubes that respond to the geometry and grid of the retained museum building, providing 54 residential apartments placed within a highly sensitive urban / park context and also designed by OMA and Allies and Morrison.
The architectural process is driven by spatial and structural thinking, but it is also profoundly shaped by ideas of use. From the very beginning, the imagined epilogue of colonisation is playing out in the mind of all those involved. Lines are drawn and details developed, but all the time, it is the scope for human narrative that is being created. Of no project is this more true than the new permanent home of the Design Museum, which opened its doors to the public for the first time on November 25th.
"More than a museum - Showcasing the power of interdisciplinary collaboration, London’s new Design Museum is both an example of, and a place for, exceptional contemporary design, of which ChapmanBDSP and Studio ZNA’s lighting schemes play an important role in creating a space to inspire future generations.
[...] A lensed linear luminaire by L&L Luce&Light, was used on the moving info graphic title wall, which invites the public into the exhibition as you enter the museum at ground level. It injects the huge minimalist atrium with an energy and a hint at the creative innovation and invention on display."
More than a museum, MondoArc, n. 96 (2017): pp 66-74
At the new Design Museum by John Pawson visitors will be walking the core competence of Dinesen
Dinesen plays a key role in the new London Design Museum designed by John Pawson. 2.700 m2 of Dinesen Oak planks add to the architectural experience of the dramatic, yet elegantbuilding,which will be among the world’s leading museums of contemporary design and architecture.
The new Design Museum is the result of an £83 million transformation of a listed landmark building from the 1960s andreflects most of Pawson’s characteristics with a palette of oak, stone and white paint. Straight lines and right angles are used as a continuous theme and the pleasant feeling inside the museum is enhanced by the wooden floors and theextraordinary stairwayboth made of Dinesen Oak, providing the surfaces with a warm glow and linear texture.The long and wide solid planks, which are Dinesen’s trademark, emanate calmness and simplicity. Combined with the natural elegance of the material, these qualities are entirely in keeping with the minimalist idiom for which John Pawson is world-famous.
Ever since 1898 Dinesen has been driven by a passion for wood and respect for nature. The company knows everything about the quality of raw wood and the art of making beautiful planks, and when this knowledge is combined with international architects’ comprehension of design and aesthetics, new possibilities arise. Unique solutions are born, and strong ties are formed. This is especially true of the relationship between Dinesen and John Pawson.
A crucial relationship
The story of the partnership between John Pawson and Dinesen dates back to 1992, when the architect first became acquainted with the Danish family-owned company - and especially the solid Dinesen Douglas planks in lengths of up to 15 metres. Since then, the British architect has used the exclusive planks in several projects, including his own home in London. It was also on the encouragement of John Pawson that Dinesen began to work with oak,and today oak has become a significant part of the production. “Dinesen is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to achieve exactly what I want, where another company might simply say what I want is impossible,” says John Pawson, who continues: “You want to work with people who are as obsessive as you are.”
The partnership with John Pawson through almost 25 years is highly valued by Dinesen, and both parts take a pride in cooperating to find the most optimal solution on every project whether it is concerning a public building or a private home. This can also be seen at the new Design Museum where oak planks are used in a wide range of widths and lengths in an effort to utilise every single oak tree as efficiently as possible.
With the new Design Museum John Pawson has done a remodeling of the interior of the former Commonwealth Institute building.The project has increased the museum’s size threefold and will enable a significantly extended learning programme and a greater range of exhibitions. The new Design Museum will open on 24 November 2016 and is expected to attract over 600,000 visitors a year.