Study John Pawson's Interiors of the New London Design Museum

This month London's Design Museum will officially open its new home on Kensington High Street. The project, which has been redeveloped and designed in collaboration with Rotterdam-based practice OMA and London-based studio Allies & Morrison, has seen a Grade II* Listed Modernist monument sensitively restored into contemporary galleries. For John Pawson—who has been commissioned to create "a series of calm, atmospheric spaces" ordered around a large, oak-lined atrium—this scheme marks his first major public work.

Study John Pawson's Interiors of the New London Design Museum - More Images+ 12

© Gareth Gardner

According to the Design Museum's own narrative of the spaces, "visitors [will] find themselves in a central atrium with striking views up to [an] iconic hyperbolic paraboloid roof." Here galleries, learning spaces, a café, an events space and a shop are arranged like an "opencast mine" beneath the building's iconic concrete roof.

© Gareth Gardner

Two temporary gallery spaces will display up to seven temporary exhibitions per year. According to the museum, a "double-height basement also features a dedicated museum collection store with a glass window, allowing visitors a behind-the-scenes glimpse of pieces not on display." In addition, a 200-seat Bakala Auditorium will "allow the museum to expand its public programme and evening talks."

© Gareth Gardner

"Italian terrazzo flooring is used throughout the basement and ground floors, transitioning to warm-toned Dinesen oak flooring and wall panels on the upper floors. A key element of the Pawson vocabulary, a wooden bench with concealed lighting spans one side of the Weston Mezzanine. The bench sits in front of a series of marble panels conserved from the original building, which before that had previously been installed in the Imperial Institute in 1857."

Sketch (John Pawson)
Plan: Lower Basement
Plan: Upper Basement
Plan: Ground Floor
Plan: First Floor
Plan: Mezzanine
Plan: Second Floor
Sketch (John Pawson)
Section B
Section A

There are ‘moments’ in the building that I relish every time I walk around, but I think it is really the way everything comes together – the new and the old – that gives me the greatest pleasure. I hope the Design Museum shows people that you don’t have to tear down and start from scratch to make exciting new cultural spaces.

© Gareth Gardner
About this author
Cite: AD Editorial Team. "Study John Pawson's Interiors of the New London Design Museum" 18 Nov 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

Pawson's sketch of the new London Design Museum


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