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National Railway Museum

United Kingdom


  • 6a architects (UK) and OFFICE Kersten
    Geers David Van Severen (Belgium)
  • Atelier d’Architecture Philippe Prost (France)
  • Carmody Groarke (UK)
  • Winner Feilden Fowles (UK)
  • heneghan peng architects (Ireland)

Located in the heart of York, one of the world’s most important railway cities, the National Railway Museum is set for a transformation: poised to become the cultural anchor for York Central, one of the largest city centre brownfield regeneration projects in the UK.

This open two-stage competition sought teams to design the museum’s new emblematic Central Hall, which forms part of the museum’s strategy to become the ‘World’s Railway Museum’ by 2025, its 50th anniversary.

The 4,500 sqm Central Hall will bridge the space between the National Railway Museum’s two main exhibition halls, integrating the museum estate for the first time in its history and creating an appealing and compelling arrival experience. The new building will also include reception spaces, as well as a spectacular 1,000 sqm gallery.

Launched in September 2019, the competition welcomed both national and international integrated design teams. From 76 entries, five outstanding teams were shortlisted and asked to produce design concepts. These were available to view on the competition website and at a free exhibition, with members of the public encouraged to share their views.

The team led by Feilden Fowles was declared the winner in March 2020. The jury praised the team’s design concept for its elegance, its ambitious energy strategy and its intriguing new visitor journeys. Inspired by the site’s former uses, the proposal references the history of locomotive roundhouses and railway turntables with its central two-storey rotunda; an intriguing illuminated form that will attract visitors approaching from York Station.

Fergus Feilden, Director of Feilden Fowles, said:

We’re thrilled to win this nationally significant competition. The brief combined three of our passions – museum architecture, great railway architecture of the 19th century, and working in Yorkshire.
Central Hall is both a tremendous challenge and a unique opportunity to create a new face and connected experience for the museum.