C. F. Møller Architects has designed the extension of The National Maritime Museum in London, Britain’s seventh largest tourist attraction and part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site.
The new wing, called The Sammy Ofer Wing – named after the international shipping magnate and philanthropist Sammy Ofer, who has funded most of £36.5m extension – was inaugurated on the 12th of July with the participation of among others the British Prince Philip. On Thursday 14th of July the extension opens to the public.
The National Maritime Museum houses the world’s largest maritime collection and is Britain’s seventh major tourist attraction with approx. two million visitors every year from around the world. The museum is housed in historic buildings, built in 1807, forming part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. The park incorporates a number of baroque buildings that are considered among the finest in Europe and is an essential part of Britain’s maritime history, particularly The Royal Observatory from 1676 and The Old Royal Naval College from 1712.
The main idea of the extension – which C. F. Møller Architects won in an international architectural competition in 2006 – has been to ensure minimal interventions in this sensitive historic site and yet give the museum a new, distinctive main entrance and the necessary additional exhibition space, as well as a new café, restaurant, library and archives that meet the particular demands for storage of historical documents.
The design solution by C. F. Møller Architects has created a new main entrance emerging from the terrain. Most of the new building, however, is located underground – in total 5500 m2 out of 7300 m2. The roof of the new wing is a green, public landscaped terrace overlooking the Park, accessed at all levels by gentle ramps, even more so causing the building to blend with the park landscape. The extension has a contemporary aesthetic, but is inspired by the Baroque buildings’ rhythmic sequence of windows, and the profile of the new extension has been kept low to allow the Grade I listed Victorian facade of the existing south west wing of the museum to be appreciated as a backdrop to the striking new building.
The goal of the expansion has been to open up the museum and allow the display of more collections than ever before. The museum’s collections range from e.g. a toy pig that survived the sinking of RMS Titanic to Lord Nelson’s last letter to his daughter. The maritime archive contains some 100,000 books and nearly two miles (3.2 km) of shelved manuscripts.