Winner of Natural History Museum design competition announced
A garden which tells the story of the earth’s formation is to be the new setting for the Natural History Museum, one of the country’s most iconic buildings and most popular tourist attractions.
The design by landscape architect Kim Wilkie and architects Niall McLaughlin was the winner of a competition commissioned to create a more fitting context for the Museum and a more engaging environment for the visitor.
The outline plans envisage visitors enjoying and understanding the latest thinking on the natural world in a series of linked greens and squares culminating on the west side in a terraced garden with experimental platforms and pond, showing research into the critical roles of water, soil, plants and air in the centre of a city.
Fronted by meadowed landscapes and flanked to the east by a new green square at street level, with a café and exhibition space beneath, the Grade 1 listed Waterhouse building will at long last be seen in a context which does justice to its magnificence,
Visitors’ initial experience of the site will also be improved with an end to lengthy queues, better disabled access and a more attractive approach from South Kensington tube.
Part of a major improvement project at the Museum, the competition was announced in autumn 2013. Five applicants were shortlisted and Niall McLaughlin saw off submissions from BIG, Grant Associates, Land Use Consultants and Stanton Williams Architects to win the commission.
The competition jury of ten which included, journalist, television presenter and former cabinet minister Michael Portillo, came to a unanimous decision.
‘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 Niall 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,” said Dr Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum.
Niall McLaughlin Architects have won many awards and competitions recently. The practice was shortlisted for the 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize for their Bishop Edward King Chapel. Kim Wilkie, a Royal Designer for Industry, collaborates with architects around the world. Kim has designed the neighbouring V&A garden and Hyde Park Corner in London, and has worked with Niall McLaughlin on Worcester College in Oxford and the Oxford Botanic Garden
Images courtesy of Malcolm Reading Consultants who administered the competition.