Stanton Williams and Asif Khan win Museum of London West Smithfield International Design Competition

Competition concept recognises physicality of existing listed spaces and balances them with crisp and contemporary design

Stanton Williams 2

Stanton Williams and Asif Khan working together with conservation architect Julian Harrap and landscape design consultants J&L Gibbons have won the Museum of London’s international competition for the new museum at West Smithfield.

The team led by Stanton Williams with Asif Khan was selected from an inspiring shortlist of six architectural teams by a panel of well-known figures from the worlds of the arts, media, property, architecture and business, chaired by broadcaster and economist, Evan Davis.

The decision brings to a close a six-month long competition funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA), which attracted over 70 entries, and was managed by Malcolm Reading Consultants.

The winners’ vision for the new Museum of London balances a crisp and contemporary design with a strong recognition of the physicality and power of the existing spaces of the West Smithfield site.

Their early stage concept includes:

  • A new lifted landmark dome which would create a beautiful light-filled entrance to the museum;
  • Innovative spiral escalators transporting visitors down to the exhibition galleries in a vast underground chamber;
  • Flexible spaces that can serve as a new meeting place for London and a centre for events and debate;
  • A new sunken garden and green spaces to provide pockets of tranquillity.

The jury’s consensus was that the Stanton Williams and Asif Khan team presented a highly-cohesive concept, which honoured the original Victorian market buildings and demonstrated a passion for the project.

The winning architects will now work closely with the team at the museum and the museum’s stakeholders including the GLA, City of London Corporation and the local Smithfield community to develop their initial concepts into a fully-formed vision for the new museum at West Smithfield.

Evan Davis, Chair of the Jury, said of the decision:

‘The jury knew it would be a difficult choice and that’s what it turned out to be. We had six fantastic teams on the shortlist; each had ideas for the site that were both ambitious and interesting. I would never have guessed that you could take wonderful old buildings like that and turn them into a new museum in so many completely different ways.
‘But after a lot of discussion, a clear winner emerged. Stanton Williams and Asif Khan offered some really innovative thinking, and managed to combine a sensitivity to the heritage of the location, with a keen awareness of the practicalities of delivering a really functional museum.’

Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London, said:

‘Now we have Stanton Williams and Asif Khan on board the hard work begins, and I cannot wait to get started. Over the coming months we will work together to design a new museum for London and Londoners which will be one of the top visitor attractions in the capital. Our project sparked the imagination of truly remarkable architects whose hard work and talent produced astounding submissions. I am grateful to them all. The Stanton Williams and Asif Khan partnership is a scintillating combination.’

Mark Boleat, Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee at the City of London Corporation, said:

‘The City of London Corporation is proud to be a major funder and supporter of the Museum of London. We are looking forward to working with the museum as it launches this project to move to a new site in West Smithfield. We hope these ambitious plans will secure the museum’s long-term future, build on its reputation as an outstanding storyteller of the capital’s rich history, and contribute to the evolving Cultural Hub in the City.’

Paul Williams, Director of Stanton Williams, said:

‘We are immensely excited about being given the opportunity to work with the Museum of London on this wonderfully challenging project – participating in an endeavour that will transform an area of London that has such a rich history, but sadly has been in decline for many years.
‘Encountering the historic market spaces for the first time in early April this year, we were ‘blown away’ by the power and physicality already existing, and knew then, that whatever scheme we developed, this physicality needed to be harnessed, and not lost, and that initial observation has inspired our initial design proposals. This project will engage a broad community well beyond London.’

Asif Khan, Principal of Asif Khan Ltd, said:

‘To have a chance to create a new museum for London, in London, about London, at this moment in time is incredibly exciting for us. We all know the power of public spaces in changing our city and our individual lives, and this is what drives us. We want the Museum of London to be a museum where everyone belongs, and where the future of London is created.’

The other teams shortlisted for the project included, BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group with Hawkins\Brown, Caruso St John Architects, Diener & Diener Architekten with Sergison Bates Architects, Lacaton & Vassal Architectes with Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio and studio Milou architecture with RL&Associés and Axis Architects.

Lacaton & Vassal Architectes with Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio were awarded an honourable mention for their thoughtful, contemporary and refreshing design approach.

The museum intends to submit a planning application for the West Smithfield site to the City of London Corporation in 2018 and to deliver the new museum by 2022.

The public exhibition displaying the shortlisted design concepts for the new museum at West Smithfield will remain on display until 11 September 2016. Full details are available on the museum’s website.