British practice Níall McLaughlin Architects together with Kim Wilkie have been unanimously selected as the winners of the competition to reimagine the external grounds of London's Natural History Museum. The competition, which attracted proposals from shortlisted teams such as BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), Stanton Williams Architects, and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, called for entries to "reshape the Museum’s grounds and reinvigorate its public setting" with an aim to creating "an innovative exterior setting that matches Alfred Waterhouse’s Grade I listed building whilst also improving access and engaging visitors."
The architects are "delighted to have won this significant commission, particularly given the high quality of the work by all of the shortlisted candidates." Ian Hendersen, chair of the jury which included a number of high profile businessman, former cabinet ministers and architects, said that "the challenge was to find a team which would consider the changing nature of the Museum, a team who would think holistically, both spatially and intellectually, considering the Museum and the Grounds together. Níall McLaughlin Architects did this brilliantly." The team will now work with the museum to create an innovative setting that matches the visual excellence of the world famous Waterhouse building and Darwin Centre.
Dr Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum said: "I am delighted we are appointing a team that fully understands the Museum’s opportunities and challenges for the future. I’m looking forward to working with Níall McLaughlin Architects over the coming months to develop a new design for our grounds that enhances the character of the buildings and gives our increasing visitor numbers the best possible experience."
Níall McLaughlin "have won a raft of awards and competitions recently." Having been shortlisted for the 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize for the Bishop Edward King Chapel. Additionally, during 2015 Níall McLaughlin will be the Norman R. Foster Visiting Professor at Yale University. Kim Wilkie, a Royal Designer for Industry, recently designed the neighbouring V&A garden and Hyde Park Corner in London, having previously worked with Niall McLaughlin on Worcester College in Oxford and the Oxford Botanic Garden.
The full shortlist included: