World Conservation & Exhibitions Centre
The proposal saw the redevelopment of the north-west corner of the Museum’s Bloomsbury site in central London, to provide a flexible series of spaces supporting the wide range of activities undertaken by the British Museum. This 18,000 sq.m facility includes a new Special Exhibitions Gallery, a Collections Storage facility, a new Logistics Hub supporting the Museum’s extensive global loans programme, Conservation & Scientific Research Studios & Laboratories, curatorial facilities for the Exhibitions team, as well as general administration & office provision for the wider Museum.
This project had significant Planning risks by virtue of the fact that each building within the Bloomsbury site is Grade I Listed. An 18-month period of planning negotiations involved detailed discussions and negotiations with multiple shareholders and interested parties, including Camden Borough Council, Historic England, the Bloomsbury Conservation Area Committee, the Georgian Society and local residents, as well as the Museum’s own Board of Trustees, the Directorship, and the multiple User Groups within its large staff body. Planning was granted for the scheme in December 2009 following presentation at Council Committee.
The World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners occupies an interstitial site, with the new extension connecting to existing Grade I Listed buildings at 9 separate locations.
The functional requirements of the brief are arranged vertically across 5 new ‘pavilions’. The Collections Storage Facility is located below ground for the heavy loading requirement and where the most stable environmental conditions can be found. Above this sits the new Logistics Hub linking into existing Museum logistics. The Special Exhibitions Gallery is located at Level 2 (main gallery level in the Museum) for best public connectivity enhanced visitor experience. The Conservation Studios sit above the gallery to take advantage of good daylight as well as placing the requirement for flues, fume extraction and ventilation at the top of the building.