Museum redesign gets go-ahead

The long-awaited redesign of London’s Transport Museum in Covent Garden has this week been given the green light with an £8.6m cash injection from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Two design groups will work on the project. Ralph Applebaum Associates will undertake a rethink of the exhibition space and Lumsden Design Partnership will design café and retail areas. The £17.6m project also involves extensive rebuilding work, with lead architect Avery Associates tasked with introducing a mezzanine level and lecture theatre.

The redesigned exhibition space will enable the museum to show 300 000 more items than at present, particularly paper-based work including posters, photographs and architectural drawings, says a museum spokeswoman. ‘[At the moment] the space is awkward and illogically laid out,’ she says.

Ralph Applebaum, which created concepts for the bid, aims to draw on London’s status as ‘a world leader in great transport systems’ and Transport for London’s strong design heritage, says director of London operations Philip Tefft.

‘It must be more engaging and make deeper use of the museum’s collection,’ Tefft says. ‘But we also want it to be a platform for presenting ideas on the future of transport.’ Following sign-off on early concepts, the consultancy will now finalise design details and ‘fill out’ the scheme.

More detailed work on café and shop concepts starts next week, says LDP managing director Callum Lumsden, following the group’s appointment in March. It intends to design ‘more imaginative’ Transport for London products and make better use of the iconic roundel, says Lumsden. Both areas will ‘tie in better with the museum’ once finished, adds the museum spokeswoman.

The museum ‘may’ be rebranded at a later stage, but no decision has yet been made, she says. It is scheduled to re-open in 2006.

Ralph Applebaum was appointed in early 2002 after an eight-way creative pitch through OJEC. LDP won a five-way paid creative pitch.

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