Username Password  
  Forgot your password?  

The Design Museum
John Pawson

About the Design Museum
The Design Museum is the world’s leading museum devoted to architecture and industrial design. It is working to place design at the centre of contemporary culture. It demonstrates both the richness of the creativity to be found in all forms of design, and its importance. The Design Museum is the definitive voice of contemporary design in the UK. Founded in 1989 and currently located in Shad Thames, its work encompasses all elements of design, including product design, graphic design, and fashion. The Design Museum plans to relocate from its current home at Shad Thames to the former Commonwealth Institute building, in Kensington, West London. The project is expected to be completed by 2014. Leading designer John Pawson will convert the interior of the Commonwealth Institute building to create a new home for the Design Museum giving it three times more space in which to show a wider range of exhibitions, showcase its world class collection and extend its learning programme.
A centre of design for London
The goal of the project is the creation of a world-class museum of design in the heart of London, with galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions, education spaces and a design reference library. The architectural vision developed to realise this goal has been profoundly shaped by the fact that the new Design Museum’s permanent home is within the skin of an existing building - the Grade 2* listed former Commonwealth Institute, designed by Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners, which opened in 1962. Driving the process of reclaiming this iconic example of post-war British Modernism as a contemporary cultural space has been the wish to preserve and enhance its inherent architectural qualities for future generations of Londoners and visitors to the city. The outcome should be a building that feels as though it has retuned itself.
A new public space in Holland Park
John Pawson Design Museum LondonThis process of natural evolution and readjustment begins with the character of the relationship of the new Design Museum with its setting in Holland Park. Freedom of access will allow the public to move comfortably from the green spaces of the park to the interior spaces of the building in a relaxed, open and instinctive manner. In line with the wider design strategy for the building, greater transparency is introduced on the north and east facades. Glazed entrances are created to the ground floor foyer and the existing stained glass windows, currently installed on the south façade, are relocated to the north façade, adjacent to the new entrance from Holland Park.
Dynamic spatial experiences
John Pawson Design Museum LondonOnce inside, visitors will be naturally drawn up through the atrium space towards the hyperbolic paraboloid roof structure – the defining architectural gesture of the original design. The central staircase leads to the mezzanine level - an echo of the original dais, at the centre of the exhibition building. As in the original building, this level offers a chance to view the whole building, as well as providing space for exhibiting a key piece from a visiting exhibition or the permanent collection. As one moves upwards through the central void, so the framed view of the roof will widen and transform, assisted by the enlarged openings in the top floor slab, creating a dynamic experience that will change according to the time of day and the light conditions. Providing sightlines to all of the building’s principal spaces, the central void acts as a key medium for orientation and navigation. From the entrance foyer, a visitor will see the entire route through the building, winding up from the central platform around the opening at first floor level to the permanent exhibition space on the top floor and the sweeping curve of the roof. The material palette is purposefully restricted, with concrete terrazzo floors at basement and ground levels and hardwood used for the remaining floors and also for wall panelling.
The programme is split between five floors, providing a total around 10,000m2. The museum’s main exhibition space is located on the ground floor, together with the café, bookshop and design store. The first floor contains the administration and learning departments, design reference library and an area of open storage where the museum’s collection may be accessed for research purposes. An exhibition of the permanent collection, designed by Studio Myerscough, is located on the top floor, where the roof soars up to 16m above one’s head, alongside the restaurant, event space and the members’ room, all of which will enjoy views over Holland Park. The second exhibition space and the auditorium are located at basement level, which also accommodates curatorial spaces, workshops, kitchen and back of house areas.
Opening up sightlines to the hyperbolic paraboloid roof
John Pawson Design Museum LondonIn the existing building, the central concrete section of the roof rises up through the building on two structural supports, arches over the central space and then down towards the top floor. The floor slab opens up around the structure, allowing it to pass through to the floor below. To give the central roof structure the same freedom, two new openings are formed in the new top floor slab. The larger opening relates to the central void and an additional smaller opening visually connects The Sackler Library on the first floor to the permanent exhibition space. The creation of the second opening allows further views up to the roof from the first floor level, as well as allowing views into the workings of the museum for visitors to the permanent exhibitions on the second floor.
Horizontal elements
A key part of the design rationale is for the floor slabs to be clearly expressed as strong horizontal elements. The slab edges are therefore finished in white, as in the original building, contrasting with the timber walls and defining the volumes of the first and second floors. To reinforce this idea, all volumes, including the lift cores on the top floor, are located around the perimeter of the building.
John Pawson Design Museum LondonOne of the key elements to the building is the structural design developed by Arup to retain and preserve the original roof structure. These complex proposals will allow the internal floors of the existing building to be demolished, a new basement to be built across the site and the new structure of the museum building to be constructed under the roof.

The existing fabric of the building has shaped how the new structural design has developed. The rhythm of the edge support mullions sets up a typical structural grid of approximately 9m x 9m. Shear walls, built in as part of the service cores distributed through the building, will brace the structural grid.

A series of piles, temporary beams and trusses will be built around and through the existing structure to support the internal roof support columns and the roof edge support mullions. The external walls and internal structure will then be demolished and the new structure built up around the temporary works until it can support the roof. The temporary supports will then be removed and the new structure completed, to allow the fit-out work to commence.
Image by Alex Morris Visualisation
courtesy by John Pawson Ltd | Design Museum

The Design Museum is moving to the former Commonwealth Institute building in Kensington, west London. The expected opening date is 2016. Designs for the site have been produced by two of the world’s most innovative architectural practices: John Pawson has redesigned the interior of the Grade 2* listed building and OMA has planned the surrounding residential development.

Film by

United Kingdom
Greater London
Kensington High Street (Holland Park)
Museums and buildings for exhibitions
Architectural and design museums
Operations on existing buildings
Renovation, rehabilitation and restructuring
2010     project winner of competition
2013 - 2014
Esme Fieldhouse, "Architectural lottery", Blueprint 309, december 2011, pp. 42-48
Design Museum
£ 80,000,000
sq.m 10,340 over 5 floors
Gallery 2 – sq.m. 526
Auditorium – 194 seats
Upper basement foyer
Ground floor foyer
Gallery & bookshop
Gallery 1 – sq.m. 841
Administration department
Sackler Library – sq.m. 173
Education department – sq.m. 480
Permanent exhibition – sq.m. 667
Members Room – 50 seats
Restaurant – 94 seats
Event space 1 – sq.m. 365
Event space 2 – sq.m. 95
John Pawson Limited
Project leader
Deyan Sudjic (Director of the Design Museum)
Alice Black (Deputy Director of the Design Museum)
Design team
John Pawson, Chris Masson, Jan Hobel, Stefan Dold, Allan Bell, Reginald Verspreeuwen, Regula Schweizer, Alison Morris, Nicholas Barba, Vishwa Kaushal, Christine Bickel
Gestione del progetto
Gardiner & Theobald Management
Structural consultant
David Lewis, James Duggan
Chapman Bathurst
John Biscoe, Duncan Scott, Phil Parkes
Environmental design
Chapman Bathurst
Darren Coppins
Acoustical consultant
Applied Acoustic Design
Philip Wash
Lighting design
Paul Nulty Lighting Design
Paul Nulty, Ellie Coombs
Audiovisual design
Coleman Bennett
Daragh Coleman, Will Hegan, Chris O’Reilly, Adam Oliver
Stephen Wilkinson, David Morris
Quantity surveyor
Turner & Townsend Cost Management
Colin Wood, Sarah Giles
Consultant for energy and environment
Jackson Coles
Roger Stephenson
Planning and organization
Gerald Eve
Neil Henderson, Hannah Bizoumis
Legal advice
Speechly Bircham LLP
Charles Palmer, Fiona Edmund, Tim Raper
Exhibition design
Studio Myerscough
Morag Myerscough, Richard Greenwood
Transport planning
Arup Transport
Philip de Jongh
Accessibility consultants
Earnscliffe, Making Access Work
Jayne Earnscliffe
Logistics, traffic, flows
Steven Chapple, Darren Briggs, Melody Ablola
Fire safety
Neil McPhail
Specification consultant
Schumann Smith Specification Consulting
Richard Jackson, David Dean
Plastic models, rendering, visualization
Richard Armiger, Network Model (models)

Alex Morris Visualisation (3D)
Contacts    Copyright © 2004 - 2023 MONOSTUDIO | ARCHITECTOUR.NET
| Disclaimer | Conditions of use | Credits |