Stanton Williams and Asif Khan set to design new Museum of London

The two architectural practices have been selected based on their proposal’s “innovative thinking” and sensitivity to the heritage of existing buildings.

MoL_Galleries © Museum of London Stanton Williams
MoL_Galleries © Museum of London Stanton Williams

Update 25 January 2017: The museum has now received £180 million of its £250 million fundraising target needed to create it at its new site in West Smithfield. The funding has been provided by the City of London Corporation and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. At its new location, the museum hopes to double its yearly visitor attendance from one to two million, and will cover a 9,500mpermanent and temporary exhibition space. 

Stanton Williams and Asif Khan have been chosen to design the new Museum of London, after the shortlist was whittled down to six concepts in June.

The project comes as the museum moves to a new site in West Smithfield, central London, and is expected to open in 2022.

After a six-month competition that attracted more than 70 entries, they were selected from a shortlist of six architectural teams, including Lacaton & Vassal Architectes and Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio.

The judging panel was made up of figures from industries including arts, media, property, architecture and business.

Innovative thinking and sensitivity to heritage

It was chaired by broadcaster and economist Evan Davis, who says: “Stanton Williams and Asif Khan offered some really innovative thinking, and managed to combine a sensitivity to the heritage of the location, with a keen awareness of the practicalities of delivering a really functional museum.”

Key design features included in the early stage concept are a domed entrance to the museum, spiral escalators that transport visitors down to exhibition galleries in an excavated underground chamber, flexible spaces that can serve as venues for events and debates, a sunken garden and tranquil green spaces.

Harness existing architecture

“Encountering the historic market spaces for the first time in early April this year, we were blown away by the power and physicality already existing,” says Paul Williams, director at Stanton Williams.

“[We] knew then, that whatever scheme we developed, this physicality needed to be harnessed, and not lost, and that initial observation has inspired our initial design proposals.”

The winning architects will now work closely with the team at the museum, conservation architect Julian Harrap, landscape design consultants J&L and the museum’s stakeholders including the Greater London Authority, City of London Corporation and the local Smithfield community to develop their initial concepts further.
The museum intends to submit a planning application for the West Smithfield site to the City of London Corporation in 2018 and complete the new museum by 2022.

MoL_Link © Museum of London Stanton Williams
MoL_Link © Museum of London Stanton Williams
MoL Existing Basement © Museum of London  Stanton Williams
MoL Existing Basement © Museum of London Stanton Williams
MoL Institute Sketch © Museum of London  Stanton Williams
MoL Institute Sketch © Museum of London Stanton Williams
MoL General Market Sketch © Museum of London  Stanton Williams
MoL General Market Sketch © Museum of London Stanton Williams
MoL_Catacombs © Museum of London  Stanton Williams
MoL_Catacombs © Museum of London Stanton Williams
MoL_Dome © Museum of London  Stanton Williams
MoL_Dome © Museum of London Stanton Williams

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