The Museum of London’s move to West Smithfield will renew a nationally-significant landmark on a site which has been emblematic for nearly two millennia and a working market for nearly 700 years. With the present museum at London Wall stretched to capacity, the new site at West Smithfield – circa 25,000 square metres of available space – will enable the museum to show much more of its collection – an astonishing six million artefacts.
Launched in February 2016, The Museum of London West Smithfield International Design Competition was designed to be sympathetic to emerging designers, as well as established museum specialists, with the turnover threshold set relatively low (in relation to total project value) at £2m.
The project is focused on a fine ensemble of Victorian buildings, including Smithfield General Market, the Fish Market, the Red House and the Engine House, all of which have lain unused for over a decade. It will transform a place of physical exchange into a culture and knowledge exchange.
Almost 80 teams, comprising circa 140 practices, entered the first stage of the competition, which had a strong international showing.
The brief challenged teams to conceive a design which optimises the opportunities for flexible contemporary space whilst being conscious of the much-loved heritage value and context of the former market.
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. 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.
Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London, said: “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.”
BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (DK) with Hawkins\Brown, Donald Insall andGehl Architects
Caruso St John Architects (UK) with Alan Baxter Associates
Diener & Diener Architekten (CH) with Sergison Bates Architects, East Architecture and Graphic Thought Facility
Lacaton & Vassal Architects (FR) with Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio, Allies and Morrison and Alan Baxter Associates
Stanton Williams (UK) with Asif Khan, Julian Harrap, J&L Gibbons and Plan A
studio Milou architecture (FR) with RL& Associés, Axis Architects and Alan Baxter Associates