Arup worked alongside Allies & Morrison, OMA, and John Pawson on the development of the Design Museum in its new West London location.
Arup provided innovative engineering services to enable the successful repurposing of the former Commonwealth Institute building in Kensington.
Maintaining the existing 1960s Grade II listed building provided a number of engineering challenges which required the team to develop an innovative approach to the project’s temporary works scheme. One of these challenges was developing a solution to keep the building’s distinctive copper-covered hyperbolic parabolic roof. The approach involved suspending the 1,500 tonne roof 20m above ground level by temporary works to enable the removal of the internal structural frame and all new flooring to be laid. Assessment of the existing roof identified that any movements of the key supports had to be controlled to within 5mm to avoid damage.
“The central hyperbolic paraboloid shell resembles that of a giant manta ray in full flight. The radiating rafters of the outer warped roof add a further dimension with the building appearing to come to life as one moves around the upper exhibition space. Its elegant construction was realised using post-tensioned concrete. This same technology, albeit further developed, was used extensively in the modern interventions. This astonishing roof will now be showcased as an example of great engineering design from the past and forms the ideal backdrop for the Design Museum’s exhibition space that will continue to inspire and delight all who visit.”
- Nigel Ciuffetelli, Lead Structural Engineer, Arup
Following an investment of £83m, the building has been transformed for its future role as the world’s leading institution dedicated to contemporary design and architecture. The building includes a new two-storey basement which has increased the building’s floor space from 6,000 square metres, to 10,000 –triple the amount of space available at the Museum’s former home at Shad Thames, Southeast London. The new museum will feature a free permanent collection display called “Designer Maker User”, as well as two temporary exhibition spaces, a library, two shops, a restaurant, café and learning studios.
“The feat of engineering accomplished by Arup to extensively refurbish this spectacular roof, while creating a new structure to accommodate the new home of the Design Museum, is almost miraculous. It is a fitting example of how design, allied to engineering, can create amazing spaces and enduring legacies. Under this stunning roof the Design Museum will tell the amazing story of design, innovation and engineering.”
- Alice Black, Deputy Director, Design Museum