The Natural History Museum, London, commissioned Malcolm Reading Consultants to run a design competition to find an inspired team to redesign and reimagine its extensive public grounds.
The Grade I listed Museum is a world-renowned research institution and cultural attraction. Although over five million people visit Sir Alfred Waterhouse’s masterpiece annually, the Museum felt that the grounds were not currently fulfilling their potential.
MRC ran a two-stage design competition to find the right team to transform the grounds and re-energise visitor engagement. The process was conducted to comply with European Union procurement guidelines (OJEU). MRC devised the brief, produced a competition website to promote the competition, and sought Expressions of Interest from national and international teams.
From these submissions, MRC advised the client on drawing up a shortlist of five teams, led by a mixture of architects and landscape architects. These teams produced concept approaches to the challenges of the site and presented their strategies to the jury.
Prior to the jury day, MRC organised a public exhibition of the shortlisted teams’ approaches, to promote the concepts and invite comments from visitors and staff.
The jury was chaired by Ian Henderson CBE, Deputy Chairman of CapCo and Chair of the NHM Estates and Building Advisory Committee, and included broadcaster and former Cabinet Minister, Michael Portillo, and Graham Morrison, Partner at Allies and Morrison.
The competition was won by award-winning practice, Niall McLaughlin Architects, working with international landscape designer, Kim Wilkie. The team will now work closely with the Museum to develop their concept and create an innovative setting that matches the visual excellence of the world famous Waterhouse building and Darwin Centre.
Kevin Rellis, Head of Estates Projects at Natural History Museum, said,
‘MRC has added great value to the project in helping turn opinion around, both with residents, and internally with staff.’