The New Design Museum in London opens its doors to the public today, after more than 10 years in the making. The newest renovated spot has three times the size of its previous home. The interiors, part conversion, and par refurbishment, were re-imaged by the hands of British architect John Pawson.
Originally completed in 1962, the Commonwealth Institute was designed by Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners. It became a listed property in 1988 and had been vacant since 2002. It was in 2008 when international architecture practice OMA proposed to preserve and repurpose the iconic building (and its surrounding area), which was claimed by the Design Museum in 2008.
A landmark of post-war British architecture, the Commonwealth Institute’s renovation took five years of hard construction, and far longer in the planning.
As part of the construction work, the original concrete floors of the building were removed – a process which required floating the parabolic roof on a temporary steel structure – and the original facade was replaced with a double-glazed skin, improving its insulation whilst maximizing the amount of daylight entering the building.
The original stained glass windows by Keith New remain, filling the shop with color and light.
large central atrium opens up with striking views of the triangulated concrete roof, panning out towards the corners like a giant butterfly. Large oak staircases guide visitors around the museum’s many spaces, including galleries, learning spaces, a cafe, Parabola restaurant and shop.
Two temporary galleries – one the ground floor, the other on the museum’s lower level – will host up to seven paid exhibitions per year. On the museum’s top floor, the museum’s new permanent collection, Designer Maker User, will be free to visit for the first time, displaying almost 1,000 objects.
You can join the Design Museum as it reopens its doors in a stunning new home in Kensington, west London. This Weekend Open features free workshops, installations, talks and performances for all ages.