compassion, collaboration & cooperation iN transistion
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.
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.
The architect John Pawson will be responsible for the conversion of the Exhibition Hall to
Design Museum would move to the building with an £80m makeover opening in 2014."
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