I started working on this project in its early stages in 2004. My role is to be the 'client' for the project, representing the people, both members of the public and V&A staff, who will use the Centre. I want to ensure that the new spaces are suitable for the activities and events to be run in them and that they are comfortable, welcoming and accessible for all our visitors. In projects like this these perspectives are often only brought in later when spaces have already been designed; being involved from the start should ensure that the Sackler Centre works as well as it possibly can for everyone. We have adopted a collaborative, consultative approach in order to achieve this.
My first task was to produce a brief for the architects explaining what we wanted in as much detail as possible. A multi-disciplinary Project Team, with members from the web, collections and contemporary teams as well as the Learning and Interpretation Division, has been meeting twice a month. We discussed our ideas as widely as possible, particularly with Softroom the architects, consulted existing users, made visits to other similar spaces, and looked at research to inspire us.
Our aims were that the Sackler Centre should:
- inspire learning, enjoyment and creativity;
- provide excellent, flexible facilities;
- put learning at the heart of the museum;
- be accessible and welcoming to all of our diverse audiences;
- provide a brand new arts centre for this part of London.
In essence our brief to the architects was that we wanted the building to feel 'contemporary, elegant, flexible, not corporate and not like school'. We really hope that the design will achieve these aims.