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We need highly talented and creative architects to help us adapt the Smithfield buildings so they meet the needs of a 21st century museum, while also preserving the rich history of these great Victorian structures. Our competition, organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants, invited architects from all over the world to participate and 71 responded. We shortlisted six practices for the final stage and their responses are presented below. Stanton Williams and Asif Khan were selected to design the new museum at West Smithfield by a competition Jury of ten members, chaired by Evan Davis, journalist and Museum of London Governor. They will help us create a charismatic museum that enhances Smithfield’s unique history and sense of place. The architectural competition is supported by the Greater London Authority.
BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (DK)
with Hawkins Brown, Donald Insall and Gehl Architects
BIG Bjarke Ingels Group has been building a reputation as one of the most creative and intelligent architecture offices in the world with over 300 employees based in Copenhagen and New York (and soon London). Significant projects in their cultural portfolio include the Danish Maritime Museum, a museum come to life in an abandoned dry dock in Helsingor, Denmark and 2015 Mies Van Der Rohe Finalist, and their ongoing work with the Smithsonian Institution for their South Campus Master Plan in Washington, DC.
“The new Museum of London is about to emerge from underneath the Barbican to inhabit the streets of London.
The existing complex formed by the General, Fish and the Poultry markets constitutes a historical and architectural cross section of the city: Victorian meets modern, brick meets cast iron, slate meets glass. Rather than trying to unify the distinct architectural identities of the buildings, we propose to explore their diversity to create a museum of the city of London that is as rich in architecture and history as the city itself. The new architectural additions will continue the legacy of the complex by adding an authentic layer of sensibility to the existing strata of architectural sediments. The city of London with all nooks and crannies, raw beauty and quirky charm, will form the diverse frame for its own museum. The city in the museum and the museum in the city. “
Founding Partner, BIG, Bjarke Ingels.
Caruso St John Architects (UK)
With Alan Baxter Associates
Since its foundation Caruso St John has been pursuing an architecture that is rooted in place. The practice resists the thin-skinned abstraction that characterises much global architecture in favour of buildings that are perceived slowly over time and that have an emotional content.
Its work is enriched by an on-going dialogue with the European city and with history. Caruso St John intervenes in sites carefully, valuing the humble and everyday as well as the more celebrated products of the architectural canon.
The Museum as City
Making a new home for the Museum of London is an opportunity for the museum to open itself up in a radical way, a chance for the museum that tells the story of London to become an integrated and dynamic part of the city. Caruso St John’s design asks what the new Museum of London can offer Londoners and what Londoners can contribute to their museum. The diversity of different structures and spaces at West Smithfield, and the networks that the design creates, will bring objects, programmes and people together in new and unexpected combinations. Our project will revive a part of the city which has been left behind. We have looked critically at the existing historic building fabric, and proposed preserving the best parts and transforming others. By bringing the beautiful market buildings and amazing subterranean basements back into public use, Caruso St John’s proposals create a polycentric home for the museum’s objects spanning from pre-history to the twenty-first century.
Diener & Diener’s work is concerned with the variety and continuity of the European city. Their work ranges from residential projects to the renovation of historical public buildings – among them the Museum of Natural History, Berlin, and the Shoah Memorial in Paris.
Sergison Bates’ work is informed by a sensitive approach to place, the experiential potential of materials, and engages with all dimensions of architectural and urban design. Significant projects include the Blankenberge Library, Belgium and Hult Business School Campus, London.
Regaining its remarkable silhouette through the ‘reconstruction’ of the corner tower, Smithfield Market becomes the new landmark for the new Museum of London. The General Market is transformed into a unique public space thereby putting the Museum of London at the forefront of museum development. By casting a spotlight on the market’s existing architecture the museum becomes inextricably linked with Smithfield Market, inside and out. The permanent and temporary exhibitions inhabit the array of subterranean spaces bringing the collection and the physicality of these spaces together in a rich visitor experience. The adjacent Annex Market and the Red House are joined by a new building. They form a unique address for public interest for the museum’s administration and research centre.
The existing market buildings are treated in a way that goes ‘beyond repair’. The surfaces and structures of the market buildings are inscribed with an integrated narrative of past and present. In this way we bring the previous lives of these spaces into an inextricable embrace with the present.
LACATON & VASSAL ARCHITECTES (FR) AND PERNILLA OHRSTEDT STUDIO (UK)
Lacaton & Vassal Architectes (FR) and Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio (UK)
with Allies & Morrison and Alan Baxter Associates
Lacaton & Vassal Architectes are a Paris-based internationally renowned practice. They promote an idea of architecture based on generosity, freedom of use and pleasure. Exemplary projects include Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio is a London-based practice realising innovative projects that span the disciplines of architecture, art, design and fashion.
For the Museum of London project they are working with London based Architecture & Urbanism practice Allies & Morrison and Heritage and Urbanism Consultant Alan Baxter Associates.
Smithfield is a new piece of the Museum collection: Smithfield is the Museum of London, the Museum of London is Smithfield.
The new Museum of London is built upon the inherent qualities of its site. Its functioning is based on fitting the program into the best available space. It is not an act of force but a delicate adaptation to make the most of what already exists.
Adopting this attitude is to assume the uniqueness of the place and to not dismiss its richness. The principle works are tailored interventions to increase connectivity, favour adjacencies, highlight qualities and improve circulation. Additionally there are moveable systems that allow response to different operations, different collections, different times and different ambitions.
It is all about making of Smithfield a piece of the museum’s collection.
Stanton Williams (UK)
with Asif Khan, Julian Harrap, J&L Gibbons and Plan A
A collaboration led by Stanton Williams and Asif Khan, who say: ‘We are immensely excited at the
possibility of working on this wonderfully challenging project – an endeavour that will transform an area of London that has such a rich history, but has been in decline for many years’.
Projects by the team members include: the UAL Campus for Central Saint Martins, King’s Cross Square; the 2012 Stirling Prize-winning Sainsbury Laboratory; the Neues Museum in Berlin; The Coca Cola Beatbox Pavilion at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
We are immensely excited at the possibility of working on this wonderfully challenging project – participating in an endeavour that will transform an area of London that has such a rich history, but sadly has been in decline for many years.
Our proposals conceive the revived Smithfield General Market as a building that is permeable on all sides, in the same way as a city square engages with its surroundings. But, in this instance, a covered square – with no front door – an ‘antimuseum’, an arena for public life, performance, installation, debate, with places for rest and reflection. This will be the new ‘Centre’ of London, a democratic meeting place, the centre of a global capital city.
Working in close collaboration with the Museum of London, I believe the creative team assembled are without doubt capable of providing the chemistry, passion, dedication, inspiration and knowledge required to deliver a world-class scheme for London.
Paul Williams, Director, Stanton Williams Architects
Stanton Williams, Asif Khan, Julian Harrap, J&L Gibbons, Plan A, HCD Management.
Studio Milou Architecture (FR)
with RL & Associés, Axis Architects and Alan Baxter Associates
studio Milou architecture has offices in Paris and Singapore specialising in museums, cultural projects and the adaptation of heritage buildings. Led by Jean-François Milou, the studio’s projects include the National Gallery Singapore, the Maritime Museum in Cherbourg in France and the Carreau du Temple, a 19th century market in Paris repurposed as a cultural centre. Their trademark is sensitively preserving the integrity of historical buildings while developing elegant designs that accommodate contemporary requirements.
As part of an architectural scheme that turns West Smithfield into an animated and bustling new urban quarter, studioMilou has designed a new entrance for the new Museum of London like an urban showcase enveloping the existing Red House and Engine House buildings. This entrance announces the ambition of the new Museum to be on the scale of the surrounding city. Visitors to the new Museum of London enter the Red House through this new showcase building, descend down into the entrails of the city, encounter the railway line that passes through the foundations, and then discover the restored General Market building from a staircase that leads into the space beneath the dome. A crown of glass showcases presents the Museum’s collection as an accumulation of stories and experiences, a treasure trove of objects flowing from the city’s earliest history to its present.