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John Pawson submits plans for new Design Museum

Dezeen Wire:
the Design Museum has submitted plans for the redevelopment of the former Commonwealth Institute building by architect John Pawson. The application concerns proposed alterations to the Grade II listed building's interior, including the creation of a new central atrium, mezzanine level and basement.

The second part of the listed Building Consent is due to be submitted late in 2011 and work is scheduled to begin on site in early 2012.

Here is some more information from the Design Museum:


Plans by John Pawson to transform the interior of the former Commonwealth Institute, a Grade II* listed building in Kensington & Chelsea, into a new home for the Design Museum were submitted to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for planning approval today.

This listed building consent represents the first of two stages to approve the fit out designs for the museum’s interior. This application seeks to:

  • Determine the exact size and location of the openings in the first and second floor slabs that will form the new central atrium.
  • Create a second opening in the second floor slab.
  • Create a new intermediate mezzanine level to replicate the original dais.
  • Create a new basement.

These changes will preserve stunning internal views of the roof and the distinctive ‘swept’ roof and will improve the quality of access in the public spaces. With this application, the Design Museum moves closer towards securing its future in west London and giving a new life to an important example of post-war British architecture, regarded as second only to the Festival Hall in significance. The museum is working with English Heritage to ensure that the remodelled interior maintains the essential qualities of the original architecture in its new home, the Design Museum will reflect the building’s history of innovative educational activities and exhibition display.

Planning permission for the overall site was granted in July 2010, for a scheme developed by Chelsfield Partners and the Ilchester Estate in collaboration with the Design Museum. The architect for the planning scheme is Reinier de Graaf of Rem Koolhaas’ firm The Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA).

The Design Museum aims to submit the second part of the detailed listed Building Consent late in 2011.

Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum comments, ‘This is an important step forward for the museum. Exploring the most appropriate way to bring a landmark building from the recent past back to life has been a fascinating and rewarding process’.

John Pawson adds 'The Commonwealth Institute is 50 years old, but the form still feels daring.  The sense of vertical expansion when you step into the heart of the building is exhilarating no matter how many times you experience it. Our work is about preserving and enhancing this spatial experience for new generations of visitors'.

Mark Wenlock, Partner, Chelsfield Partners, explains, ‘This submission marks the start of an exciting phase for the development in which works will start on site early next year.’

John Pawson was selected for the project from a shortlist of architects including David Chipperfield, Tony Fretton, Stanton Williams, Caruso St John, Haworth Tomkins and the Dutch practice, Claus en Kaan.


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