Providing a new entrance, courtyard and purpose-built subterranean gallery for temporary exhibitions, the Exhibition Road project will showcase the best of contemporary design, as well as celebrating the beauty of the V&A’s existing structure.
Video: The V&A Exhibition Road Building Project
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The architects are working with the V&A on an exciting process to explore the possibility of installing the first ceramic-tiled courtyard in the UK. This choice of material responds specifically to the fabric of the original building and its collections, which include numerous striking examples of19th century decorative ceramics. The courtyard will act as a venue for installations and events and will be served by a glass-fronted cafe.
The courtyard at night. © AL_A
Creating the new gallery will allow greater flexibility for exhibition design, and will also allow the opportunity to uncover and restore the stunning 19th century courts currently used for temporary exhibitions.
New temporary exhibition gallery. © AL_A
In addition to providing a range of new public spaces inside and outside the museum, the project will open up the relationship between the V&A, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, making the transition between different sites more fluid. Entry to the new courtyard will be through the arches of the 19th century Aston Webb Screen. This screen, an integral part of the museum’s original building, was painstakingly removed and put into storage at the end of 2013, in order for the majority of the masonry to be re-instated at the end of the project.
Aston Webb screen before removal © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The new entrance into the V&A. © AL_A
Sgraffito on the façade of the Henry Cole Wing building © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
From the courtyard it will also be possible to see for the previously hidden facades of Aston Webb’s original buildings, and the detailed sgraffito decoration on the later Henry Cole building, which will be made publicly accessible for the first time since its completion in 1873.
Following an extensive international competition, Amanda Levete Architects (AL_A) were appointed as the designers of this scheme. Work on the main construction began in January 2014, and the new spaces are due to open to the public in early 2017. The budget for the project is £49 million, over 80% of which has already been raised through private donations.
Video: Exhibition Road Building Construction
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Visualisation of the future entrance space © AL_A
View of the site showing the completed courtyard slab and future opening
for the oculus on the left. The steelwork for the café structure has
been installed along the Henry Cole Wing Building to the right.© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their generous support of this project.