Engineering structures transform gallery spaces in the lower level of London’s renowned museum by removing large sections of historic load bearing walls (whilst the floors above remain open to the public).
The £12.5m project is a major part of the V&A’s ongoing redevelopment programme known as FuturePlan, and is Eckersley O’Callaghan’s latest involvement in a framework which follows the redevelopment of the V&A’s Fashion galleries and Cast Courts.
We collaborated with architectural practice ZMMA to transform the V&A’s new suite of galleries dedicated to European art and design between 1600 and 1815. The seven galleries opened to the public on 9 December 2015. The design team reintroduced natural light and opened up new spaces in the Grade I listed building through carefully engineered interventions.
The heritage of the building necessitated a sensitive approach to the alterations, which began with a forensic examination of the existing fabric and condition.
The construction project included the challenge of removing large sections of the massive historic loadbearing walls at the lower level of the museum, to reinstate underused back of house spaces, and designing dedicated display structures for the exhibits.
Large steel frames were introduced to facilitate significant new openings, using minimum-vibration demolition techniques to ensure no damage to the museum’s sensitive collection on the floors above.
A low energy ventilation system was integrated into the scheme, threading new routes through the existing fabric of the museum via trenches, tunnels and openings.
The galleries on the floors above remained fully open during construction, allowing visitors to enjoy the museum’s vast collection whilst the structural work was completed beneath them.