Plans drawn up by Amanda Levete Architects (AL_A) to expand London’s Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum under an unused open courtyard space on Exhibition Road have been given planning permission by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Hailed as ‘outstanding’ by architect Richard Rogers, the concept designs won a competition for the project back in March 2011, surpassing entries by fellow architecture firms Snohetta, Heneghan Peng, OMA and David Chipperfield Architects.
The concept suggests excavating a new exhibition space underneath an existing courtyard at the V&A, revealing the original Victorian facades on the west side of the Grade I listed building. This underground space will feature a sweeping wooden staircase and dynamic, jagged ceiling form with generous expanses of glass for an injection of natural daylighting.
Uses for the new Exhibition Road expansion include additional display space for the V&A’s existing collections, events space, a new café, and the insertion of a new entrance lobby via Exhibition Road. Construction is due to begin onsite in 2013 with the new galleries completed by 2015, open by 2016. Of her concept, Amanda Levete, Principal of AL_A said: “This is a defining project for AL_A. We’re reimagining the dialogue between the V&A and Exhibition Road and in doing so, creating a new public space in the cultural and learning heart of London. It’s made particularly special by the V&A collections having inspired so much of our work.”
David Adjaye, Architect and former V&A Trustee comments: “From its very beginning, it was envisaged that the buildings of the V&A would be models of contemporary design, representing the ideals of the Museum as much as the collection. AL_A’s scheme considerately embraces the original Victorian architectural and decorative fabric of the Museum while unlocking the Exhibition Road side of the V&A with an impressive and welcoming public space, with dramatic state-of-the-art underground galleries.”