Structural interventions, including the removal of sections of loadbearing walls, to transform gallery space within the Grade I-listed museum while allowing the floors above to remain open to the public.

IStructE Heritage Award 2016 – Shortlisted

Eckersley O’Callaghan collaborated with architectural practice ZMMA to transform this suite of seven galleries dedicated to European art and design produced between 1600 and 1815. 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 project’s challenges included the removal of large sections of the massive historical loadbearing walls at the lower level of the museum to reinstate underused back of house spaces, and the design of 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 while the structural work was completed beneath them.

London, UK

V&A Museum