The Museum of London has revealed detailed plans of its proposed move into Smithfield Market and confirmed the scheme will now cost £332 million – more than double the original competition budget.
Set to go out to public consultation later this week, the designs for the abandoned buildings near Farringdon have been drawn up by Stanton Williams, Asif Khan and Julian Harrap Architects.
The Museum of London is set to move its 7 million objects from its Powell & Moya-designed Barbican base into the West Smithfield site. It said it wanted ‘to create a new world-class, 24-hour cultural destination in the historic heart of the capital’.
The architects landed the prized job – budgeted at £250 million in 2017 – following a major contest organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants in 2016. The competition had an indicative price tag of £150 million.
Since then the team has been refining its designs for the site, part of architect Horace Jones’ 1860s Grade II-listed market complex, previously the subject of a number of failed proposals including schemes by KPF (2008) and John McAslan & Partners (2014).
The Museum of London blames the budget hike on an increase in floor space and a change in layout as buildings next door to the main 1880s General Market building have become available.
For instance, both floors of the neighbouring 1960s Poultry Market building have now been incorporated into the masterplan, alongside the General Market and the 1890s Annex Building.
The buildings have also been found to be in a worse state than first thought and a ‘large chunk’ of cash has been required to bring them into a ‘useable state’.
There has also been a series of unexpected discoveries across the site, such as an extra 800m² of basement space in blocked-off tunnels.
A key change from the competition-winning scheme has seen the proposed spiralling route below the central 1950s dome down into the subterranean galleries replaced with a grand linear staircase featuring a belvedere offering views over the underground spaces.
The museum’s opening is now expected to be 2024 – three years later than originally planned.
Museum of London director Sharon Ament said the proposals would ‘transform what a museum should be’ and ‘become a shared space in the middle of it all, in the middle of London and in the middle of ideas and our shared history’.
She described the concept proposals would create a ‘totally porous space available night and day to welcome all of London’s visitors’.
She added: ‘An integral part of the Culture Mile, the new museum will educate in a world-class learning centre, inspire with our high-impact exhibitions and be a space where people come together to relax and reflect in the centre of everything.
‘It’s been remarkable working with such a creative group of architects and designers who have delved deeply into an equally remarkable set of buildings.’
In terms of how it intends to pay for the project, the Museum of London said it had already secured £192 million from the City of London Corporation and ‘a capped contribution’ of £70 million from the Mayor of London.
It has also raised £26.5 million in donations, including £10 million from the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, £5 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It still needs to raise a further £44 million.
A planning application is expected by the end of 2019.
Source: Architects’ Journal