Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new
conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

| 3 comments
 

London firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has put the finishing touches to the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre – a new £135 million wing at the British Museum in London (+ slideshow).

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As one of the largest redevelopment projects in the British Museum's 260-year history, the new gallery and archive facility is located in the north-west corner of the Bloomsbury quadrangle.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners conceived the nine-storey structure as a cluster of pavilions, including one underground. These were constructed using steel frames, Portland Stone and glass, to fit in with 19th and 20th century architecture of the existing buildings.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

The first phase of the build was the Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery – a large column-free exhibition space that opened to the public in March with the Vikings: Life and Legend exhibition.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

Located on the ground floor, the gallery is accessed via the north side of the Norman Foster-designed Great Court. It features large doors that allow big exhibits to be moved in and out of the space, as well as floor-to ceiling windows that can be screened to protect light-sensitive objects.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

The newly completed upper levels are dedicated to conservation of the museum's collection, from wooden canoes and totem poles to coin collections and archeological fragments.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

Laboratories and offices surround a double-height atrium, used for examining large objects, while the uppermost floor contains top-lit studios for working with smaller metal, glass and ceramic objects.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

The building also includes a collections facility, located across the three underground floors. Serving as a storage and lending hub for over 200,000 items, this features a 16-metre truck lift that allows items to be securely transported in and out of the building.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

Senior partner Graham Stirk said the extension was designed with flexibility in mind, to allow the space to adapt to the museum's changing requirements over time.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

"The need for versatility, as well as sensitivity to the historical context, underpinned our thinking throughout the design process of the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre," said Stirk.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

Spaces are organised so that every facility is served by a circulation core and a series of adjoining offices and utility rooms.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

The massing of the structures helps to create an easy visual transition between the classical facades of the existing museum and the domestic scale of the neighbouring Bloomsbury properties.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

Materials specified were also designed to work in harmony with the surroundings. A series of structural steel frames provide support for both stone panels and a rain screen made from kiln-formed glass planks.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

"The World Conservation and Exhibtions Centre is an important – and beautiful – addition to Bloomsbury," added British Museum director Neil MacGregor. "Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners has designed a wonderfully flexible building which provides the museum with the facilities it needs to achieve our future ambitions."

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

Dedicated to human history and culture, the British Museum is one of London's biggest tourist attractions. Norman Foster installed the undulating roof over the Great Court in 2000, while Softroom recently renovated the restaurant.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum

Photography is by Paul Raftery.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum
Site plan - click for larger image
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum
Level two plan - click for larger image
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum
Level six plan - click for larger image
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum
Level six mezzanine plan - click for larger image
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners completes new conservation and gallery wing at British Museum
Cross section - click for larger image
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Long section - click for larger image
  • omnicrom

    Lovely jubbly bubbly.

  • Sublime

    Another great project from Hopkins.

  • mitate

    I actually like the look of this, the glass and stone particularly. It will be interesting to see the direction the practice eventually takes.