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Two new arrival spaces at the V&A Museum
Ben Tynegate & Simon Kennedy
The brief sought proposals to refurbish & re-model two arrival spaces located off Exhibition Road. The design improves and reinforces the relationship between these spaces and the elegant rotunda above. The projects were sequenced to complement associated projects, which form part of the V&A’s FuturePlan programme.
The work to the tunnel entrance, used by over ¾ million visitors annually, has focused on the installation of a new, polychromatic marble floor. The new floor is inspired by the many beautiful examples of stone and mosaic throughout the galleries. The original centre of gravity within this corner of the site is re-established by revealing the four primary columns and is further enhanced by the patterned floor and silver gilded ceiling.
The diagonal pattern in the marble floor draws the eye across the space, inviting exploration and checking the natural instinct to walk straight through the space into the Hintze gallery. The integration of black Nero Marquina skirtings and a White Carrara grid are key heritage components that help to knit the new space with the historical galleries into which it leads.
The refurbishment of the former ground floor entrance transforms the space into a new Members reception space. Taking its lead from the tunnel entrance the corners of the room are painted dark to reveal the primacy of the central structure, which climaxes in the rotudna.
Materials are replicated. The reception desk, sited below a new ‘living’ chandelier by Julian Melchiorri, is clad in coloured marble and topped with a hardwood counter from salvaged timber from the V&A archive.
The new doors are from the same salvaged timber new, but detailed and finished to match seamlessly with the hardwood drums above the doors. Space for cloaks and new display areas are located at the periphery.
“In rethinking the Tunnel Entrance for the V&A Reed Watts have created a space that is both eminently beautiful and robust enough to cope with the footfall of our 4 million annual visitors. What was an awkward, transitional area has been transformed into a place that embodies the values of the museum, in its quality of design, intelligent use of materials and precision of nish. eir understanding of the needs of the institution and their willingness to challenge our preconceptions has resulted in an entrance that not only welcomes but inspires the visitor.” Philippa Simpson,
Head of Design & Interior Projects Victoria & Albert Museum