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WAS the SHAPE of the structure which was constructed as the ROOF of the Commonwealth Institute, when it was originally built between 1960 and 1962.

Terence Conran is to give the Design Museum a gift which could amount to £17.5m to help it move from its much loved but cramped location on the Thames to the Commonwealth Institute in west London.

Conran, who will turn 80 in October, met the prime minister, David Cameron, at Downing Street in recognition of a major act of philanthropy. The design guru is giving a cash gift of £7.5m, as well as the proceeds of selling the lease he owns on the museum building – expected to be in the region of £10m.

Deyan Sudjic, director of the museum, said the gift would mean exhibitions could be displayed in three times as much space. He added:

"Terence Conran has transformed Britain. His contribution to the way we live, eat and shop over six decades has been enormous. The gift to the Design Museum is a hugely generous investment in the future."

While the museum has an enviable location near Tower Bridge,

the modernist-style former banana warehouse is just too small.

Staff hope to complete a £77m move about six miles west to the far more spacious Commonwealth Institute, on Kensington High Street, by 2014.

"Regarded by English Heritage as the second most important modern building in London, after the Royal Festival Hall, the building has a low brickwork plinth clad in blue-grey glazing. Above this swoops the most striking feature of the building, the complex hyperbolic paraboloid copper roof, made with 25 tonnes of copper donated by the Northern Rhodesia Chamber of Mines.

The shape of the roof reflects the architects' desire to create a "tent in the park ".

The gardens feature a large water feature, grass lawns, and a flagpole for each member of the Commonwealth. The interior of the building consists of a dramatic open space, covered in a tent-like concrete shell, with tiered exhibition spaces linked by walkways. The diagonal, diamond shaped exhibition block was clearly different from the rectangular administration wing and the junction of the exhibition and administration blocks created a considerable design problem.

The Art Gallery measured 95x44 feet and relied primarily on natural lighting. A large picture window facing the park was included to postpone the desire for escape that the four solid walls of many art galleries quickly engender. The cinema beneath the art gallery was designed for daily showings of Commonwealth news and interest films but was adaptable for other purposes. It seated 450 and could be used as a lecture hall, and had a workshop stage and stage lighting for the staging of theare productions.

The building was listed Grade II* in 1988 for its roof, place as a post-war building, importance in the history of museum and exhibition design, and historical significance in marking the transition from Empire to Commonwealth.

On 22 July 2005 the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Tessa Jowell rejected a proposal to remove the building's listed status, seen by the building's owners as an obstacle to its demolition. In April 2007, the Commonwealth Institute building was acquired by property developers Chelsfield Partners. A planning brief, issued by the local council in August 2007, called for the preservation of the main structure of the building, preferably for a use such as art gallery that would retain its essential components. The brief also called for greater integration of the gardens with Holland Park.

Plans for redevelopment of the site were drawn up by Rem Koolhaas’ practice OMA and submitted for planning permission to the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea in April 2009. They include construction of three six to nine-storey residential buildings, replacing the former Administration wing, and large-scale internal modifications to the interior of the main structure, to enable its use by the Design Museum.

After criticism by local residents' groups and the Twentieth Century Society, relating both to the impact of the new buildings on the local streetscape and to the skyline of Holland Park, and to the large scale of the internal modifications to the existing structure, revised plans were submitted in August 2009. The new blocks will be lower in height, with fewer internal modifications to the existing structure. The revised proposal was approved by the Council on 17 September 2009 and by English Heritage on 25 September 2009.[8] 

The architect John Pawson will be responsible for the conversion of the Exhibition Hall to

provide a new home for the Design Museum.[9] In January 2012 it was confirmed that the

Design Museum would move to the building with an £80m makeover opening in 2014."



Views: 198

Comment by Michael Grove on June 16, 2013 at 7:37

The Romans were aware of the heavy nature of their building materials.

So they used lighter materials toward the top of the dome of the Pantheon in Rome.

On the lowest level travertine, the heaviest material was used, then a mixture of travertine

and tufa, then tufa and brick, then all brick was used around the drum section of the dome,

and finally pumice, the lightest and most porous of materials on the ceiling of the dome.

When Herod the Great, as an ally to Rome and Roman client King of Judea, decided that a

new port for increased trading purposes, was required to be built on the Eastern Mediterranean

coastline, it was inevitable that Rome took control over its construction. Recent archeological

investigations of the site and analysis of the concrete used in the submerged foundations,

has proved conclusively that the Romans had developed an underwater concrete formula which

included pigs blood as well as volcanic sand and ash, that ensured that the concrete got stronger

and stronger with age. A column of this concrete was tested at the most advanced test facility

on earth and found to be even stronger than the strongest concrete produced by our species

today, in the foundations of projects such as The Freedom Tower in New York.

Comment by Michael Grove on May 19, 2015 at 8:11

The research and development of the building and building materials side of construction of

John Laing, the company for whom my father worked for all of his working life since before WWII,

was based in Boreham WoodHertfordshire, and it was there that Kirby Laing gave the name

to the Thermalite block, a lightweight building brick developed from pulverised fuel ash which

was and remains immensely successful in its field. I can only imagine that it was because of

John Laing's connection with South Africa that my father spoke so highly of the spacial

ability of the Zulus and their expertise in the rapidity of Bailey Bridge construction, which

the Royal Engineers were tasked with during WWII and it was Kirby Laing who succeeded in

convincing his father to release him to serve in the Royal Engineers during the last two years

of the war. Following the consequences of the explosion of a land-mine in North Africa, whilst

serving as a Royal Engineer in the Eigth Army, my father spent 6 months in a hospital in

Alexandia, Egypt, before then becoming involved with the allied push across the German

defensive Gustav line towards Rome, after a landing in Italy directly from North Africa,

involved in the building of the Bailey Bridges over which the the likes of Richard Glover's

Tank Commander father pushed towards ROME following the capture of Monte Cassino. 

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