I have been the administrator for the Project Team since January 2004. I have, amongst other things, organised the internal and external consultation sessions and our research visits.
Early in the project while we were developing the brief with our architects we started to consult users and potential users of our education facilities. We worked with the Sorrell Foundation who identified schools in Tyne and Wear, Halesowen West Midlands and Greenwich, London. Each school provided us with a team of Special Advisors aged between 12 and 16. First they visited the V&A to get a feel for the Museum and what it was currently offering for this age group. It quickly became apparent that it was very difficult to discuss spaces that were not yet built! So we asked each group to visit other venues near them and report back to us on what they liked and disliked. They were brutally honest. Their opinion on one venue that shall remain nameless was: 'the light is glaring, the walls are bare, the furniture's old-fashioned, there aren't any objects…'
All of them came back to present their ideas to the V&A and to the architects. This was a very successful day and we all learned a lot from the young people who participated. There were some very definite messages that came from this consultation and which were fed into the design process. Key words were:
- Colour, light and atmosphere
- Personalised space, variety and choice