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West Smithfield International Design Competition launched

11 February 2016

  • Design challenge to reuse fine Victorian buildings whilst making inspired contemporary interventions to create a new museum which tells the extraordinary story of London and Londoners
  • Broadcaster and journalist Evan Davis to chair jury
  • Established and emerging designers encouraged to enter
  • Deadline for Expressions of Interest 14:00 GMT Tuesday, March 15 2016

The Museum of London and Malcolm Reading Consultants today launched an international search for an outstanding architect or team of architects to create a new building for the museum at West Smithfield in the City of London.

The project at the heart of the two-stage design competition has a £130-150m construction budget and is focused on housing the Museum of London within a group of heritage buildings on the historic West Smithfield site. This will enable the Museum of London to welcome more visitors and display many more objects.

This will enable the Museum of London to engage more Londoners with their city and its history, giving them exciting new ways to participate as citizens of arguably the world’s most global of cities. The richness of the 6 million plus collection will be displayed, with many objects on show for the first time.

The site covers approximately 25,000 sq m. It comprises the vacant Smithfield General Market, the vacant Fish Market, the Red House, the Engine House and other elements.

The new Museum of London in West Smithfield will be at the heart of a new cultural hub in the City of London with outstanding connections to the rest of London and the world thanks to the much-anticipated Crossrail interchange at Farringdon. Through its evocative buildings, its compelling programmes and outstanding collections, the museum aims to become one of London’s top five most visited museums.

No design is sought at the first stage. At the second stage a panel will select at least five shortlisted designers, who will be briefed and asked to produce design concepts. The competition, which is being managed by Malcolm Reading Consultants, has been designed to be sympathetic to emerging and established practices. The turnover threshold for entrants has been set relatively low (in relation to project value) at £2m and collaborations between architects are encouraged. The Museum of London welcomes collaborations between architects.

Funded by the Mayor of London through a £200,000 grant, the competition is being run in accordance with European Union procurement guidelines under the Restricted Procedure. Competitors will need to upload their responses through the Delta procurement portal via the web address below.

Full details of the competition are available on the dedicated website:

In the second stage of the competition a panel will select at least five designers, who will be briefed and asked to produce design concepts.

Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London, said:

“London is brilliantly creative and brilliantly connected to the rest of the world. I cannot wait to see schemes for West Smithfield from designers working in all four corners of the globe. The challenge of sympathetically reinventing a series of fascinating and wonderful buildings and reimagining them as a museum is big, a bit scary and terribly exciting, much like London itself.”

Malcolm Reading, architect and competition organiser, said:

“We’ve been conscious of the need to level the field for competitors by keeping the turnover threshold low relative to the scale of the project. Designers who can’t meet this level are encouraged to collaborate with others. The museum’s international brand and the draw of working in one of the world’s most creative cities are just two of many fascinating aspects of the project. We’re seeking to attract a diverse pool of international talent.”

Full details of the competition jury will be announced later in the process, but confirmed members include, broadcaster and journalist Evan Davis (chair); Director of the Museum of London, Sharon Ament; Chairman of the Board of Governors Clive Bannister, and Chief Executive of Stanhope and Museum of London Board member, David Camp. The jury will be advised by Malcolm Reading. A panel will be announced for the shortlisting process.

The competition deadline Tuesday 15 March 2016 14:00 GMT. The shortlist for the second stage is expected to be announced in the spring and, following a public exhibition of the shortlisted entries, the winning team is expected to be announced in summer 2016. The museum’s aim is to achieve planning permission, raise the necessary capital funds and deliver the new museum in 2021.


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About The Museum of London

The Museum of London tells the ever-changing story of this great world city and its people, from 450,000 BC to the present day. Our galleries, exhibitions, displays and activities seek to inspire a passion for London and provide a sense of the vibrancy that makes the city such a unique place.

The museum is open daily 10am – 6pm and is FREE to all, and you can explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added.

About Malcolm Reading Consultants

Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) is a strategic architectural consultancy which specialises in the selection of contemporary designers. MRC believes in the power of design to create new perceptions and act as an inspiration – either at the local level, or internationally.

The consultancy offers a service to find the very best designers for clients with new building projects, whether through open-international, or private-invited competitions. Recent work in this area includes competitions for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s Culture & Education Quarter, the Mumbai City Museum, the Natural History Museum, the UK Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015, New College, Oxford, the Cadogan Estate, Marlborough College, Aberdeen City Garden project, the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Exhibition Road project, the UK Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo and the Glasgow School of Art.

About The Cultural Hub

The City of London Corporation has a long history as a leading investor in the arts including the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London in the Square Mile. Together they are working to transform the area from Farringdon to Moorgate and the evolving cultural hub to create an unparalleled destination that is an internationally renowned, distinctive, vibrant and welcoming centre for the arts, heritage, learning and entertainment. A potential new Centre for Music and new Museum of London are a key part of the vision for the cultural hub and will help to redefine this area of the City well in to the future and reinforce the City’s central role in the cultural life of the country.