Museum of London West Smithfield International Design Competition launched

Deadline for Expressions of Interest 14:00 GMT Tuesday, March 15 2016

© MRC/Luke Hayes
  • Established and emerging designers encouraged; the latter through low turnover threshold of £2m and the opportunity to form collaborations

  • Design challenge: to reuse fine Victorian buildings whilst making inspired contemporary interventions

  • Broadcaster and journalist Evan Davis to chair jury

  • Deadline for Expressions of Interest 14:00 GMT Tuesday, March 15 2016

The Museum of London and Malcolm Reading Consultants today [February 11, 2016] launched an international search for an outstanding architect or team of architects to create a new building for the museum at West Smithfield in the City of London.

The project at the heart of the two-stage design competition has a £130-150m construction budget, and is focused on regenerating a nationally-significant landmark and creating new contemporary galleries within a group of historic buildings on the West Smithfield site. The Museum of London is one of the top ten museums and galleries in the UK capital and responsible for the world’s largest archaeological archive, which currently holds six million artefacts.

The Smithfield area, close to the much-anticipated Crossrail interchange at Farringdon, is expected to experience rapid economic growth as new transport links transform access.

The competition has been designed to be sympathetic to emerging designers, as well as established museum specialists. The turnover threshold for entrants has been set relatively low (in relation to project value) at £2m and collaborations between architects are encouraged. Full details of the competition, including the entry portal, are available on the dedicated website.

No design is sought at the first stage. At the second stage a panel will select at least five shortlisted designers, who will be briefed and asked to produce design concepts which reuse a number of fine Victorian buildings on the circa 25,000 sqm site. These include the now disused General Market, the Fish Market and the triangular Red House.

Director of the Museum of London, Sharon Ament, said

‘London is brilliantly creative and brilliantly connected to the rest of the world. I cannot wait to see schemes for West Smithfield from designers working in all four corners of the globe. The challenge of sympathetically reinventing a series of fascinating and wonderful buildings and reimagining them as a museum is big, a bit scary and terribly exciting, much like London itself.’

Malcolm Reading, architect and competition organiser, said:

‘We’ve been conscious of the need to level the field for competitors by keeping the turnover threshold low relative to the scale of the project. Designers who can’t meet this level are encouraged to collaborate with others.
‘The museum’s international brand and the draw of working in one of the world’s most creative cities are just two of many fascinating aspects of the project. We’re seeking to attract a diverse pool of international talent.’

Funded by the Mayor of London through a £200,000 grant, the competition is being run in accordance with European Union procurement guidelines under the Restricted Procedure. Competitors will need to upload their responses through the Delta procurement portal via the web address above.

Full details of the competition jury will be announced later in the process, but confirmed members include, broadcaster and journalist Evan Davis (chair); Director of the Museum of London, Sharon Ament; Chairman of the Board of Governors, Clive Bannister; and Chief Executive of Stanhope and Museum of London Board member, David Camp. The Jury will be advised by Malcolm Reading. A panel will be announced for the shortlisting process.

The deadline to enter the competition is 14:00 GMT Tuesday 15 March 2016. The shortlist for the second stage is expected to be announced in the spring and, following a public exhibition of the shortlisted entries, the winning team is expected to be announced in summer 2016. The museum’s aim is to achieve planning permission, raise the necessary capital funds and deliver the new museum in 2021.