OMAs scheme wins planning
The scheme would use the site on Kensington High Street as a new location for the Design Museum and new housing. It was submitted to Kensington and Chelsea in April 2009 and revised in August 2009 after having been challenged by various conservation groups. The revisions include a rescaling of the three residential blocks and a change to the alterations for the interior of the existing exhibition building. In a surprise move, English Heritage has now backed the scheme following its initial opposition.
The Commonwealth Institute has stood empty and been closed to the public since 2002. In 2006, the grade II* listed building (one of the highest protection ratings possible in the UK), was threatened with demolition after a (failed) government proposal to de-list it. OMA’s design seeks to save the building by re-injecting life into the modernist monument while retaining its distinctive copper roof and parabolic form. Three new residential buildings will integrate into the fabric of the site, and aim to create a boost for the western end of Kensington High Street. The move will give the Design Museum three times more space than its current home on the South Bank. Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum, said: “We are thrilled with the outcome, which now opens the way for the Design Museum to realise its vision of becoming a world-leading creative centre for design and architecture.” Reinier de Graaf, OMA’s partner in charge of the project, said: “We are extremely pleased with the decision of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. From the beginning of our work on the project, we were acutely aware of the sensitivity of the context. We always believed that a correct means of paying respect to this history is to ensure its evolution and integration with contemporary London.”
However, no-one from either OMA or West 8 was able to give a comment to Landscape Online about the plans for the landscape around the Institute, which was designed by Sylvia Crowe.