Coffey Architects has won a competition to design a new research centre for the Science Museum in South Kensington, London. Designed to enable a “new level of integration between exhibitions and research,” the new centre will act as a portal for over 500,000 items contained within the Wroughton Library.
Occupying the ground and first floors of the museum’s Welcome Wolfson Building, the project will be defined by two simple elements: the “bookcase” and the “canopy.” With the bookcase devoted to research, the canopy will fill the space with warm, natural light to create a welcoming atmosphere for both researchers and the public.
“The scheme itself is a simple idea to recreate the feeling of sitting under a tree, on a summer’s day, reading a book,” described practice director Phil Coffey. “The proposed canopy will create light and acoustic conditions conducive for study, as well as offering a unique space with a strong identity to be enjoyed by both casual and academic users.”
All activity will be centered around the main reading room. A small stair will provide access to a bright upper mezzanine with common room and staff areas, while a timber-lined research bar and private study area are located amongst the main bookstacks below. The entire room will be “bathed with dappled light from thousands of small oculi set within the double height translucent canopy above.”
The centre is planned for completion in 2015.