National Maritime Museum
© National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum

Building in an historic setting is one of the hardest challenges for a designer. It demands passion, excellence of design and a deep understanding of the principles of aesthetics, landscape and movement.

The new Sammy Ofer wing at the National Maritime Museum, designed by CF Møller with Purcell Miller Tritton as executive architect, manages the achievement of being confident and of its time while respectful of the Baroque setting conceived by Wren, Hawksmoor and Inigo Jones. The new building has an ‘otherness’ that is original and fresh – and is in architectural terms courageous –but it does this, not at the expense of the setting, but by interpreting the principles of the setting.

This £36.5m project, which opened in summer 2011 was funded by philanthropist, Sammy Ofer and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It not only transforms the museum’s physical environment but sets a new strategic direction for the organisation; now energised by a new entrance from Greenwich Park, new galleries, new places to eat and a state-of-the-art library and archive.

MRC was involved in the project over its entire five years, from conception to delivery. We ran the international two stage design competition which resulted in the Copenhagen-based firm CF Møller Architects being selected from an international shortlist which included one US and two UK architects. Following the appointment of the new museum Director and the largest private donation to a UK museum, £20m by Sammy Ofer, we led a complete reappraisal of the museum’s brief, leading to a new concept linked to Greenwich Park and a new entrance for the Museum.

We coordinated the strategy for planning and listed building consent and reinforced the team with the appointment of an executive architect to complement CF Møller’s management of the design.

The new wing was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh ahead of schedule and in good time for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The project recently won a Civic Trust award and is shortlisted for a London Planning award.