News comes as O’Donnell & Tuomey museum tops out
V&A East will run a design competition next year to find architects for the galleries at its new Stratford museum.
Claire McKeown, V&A East project director, said they would be looking for “world-class architects”.
The news comes as the museum, designed by O’Donnell & Tuomey, reached its full height of 42.5m. The five-storey museum’s steel structure, with its complex geometry, is also now complete. It weighs 1,600 tonnes and comprises 2,051 pieces.
McKeown described the news as a “major milestone – representing one of the most exciting pieces of contemporary design that we have ever commissioned”.
She added: “V&A East Museum’s fantastically complex steel frame will support the scored and profiled pre-cast concrete façade – the centrepiece of O’Donnell & Tuomey’s design, with the museum’s architecture responding elegantly to the context of the East Bank terrace that it sits within.”
The design is said to have been inspired by an x-ray of a 1954 Cristóbal Balenciaga silk taffeta evening dress taken by photographer Nick Veasy, alongside the architects’ explorations into the Japanese concept of “Ma” or “the space between”. Veasy’s x-ray revealed the hidden interior structure holding the folds of the dress’s fabric away from the wearer’s body.
The architects became fascinated by the space between the fabric and skin and their design features a three-dimensional folded composition rendered in pre-cast concrete, with scored lines across its faceted surface and a staircase running between the facade and the floorplates.
Architect John Tuomey said: “The concrete panels, with all their lines and shadows, are being carefully assembled on site. The topping-out of the structure marks the moment when we can begin to see some flesh on the bone.
“We now begin to see the shape and surface texture of the new museum, to feel its civic presence on Waterfront Square and register its visual impact across the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Not far to go now!”
The museum, a sister to the original V&A in South Kensington and Kengo Kuma’s Dundee outpost, will showcase local and international makers and highlight under-represented voices as well as staging major exhibitions and performances.
McKeown, who was a judge for Building [Re]Design’s Stratford Design Challenge earlier this year, said over the next three years they would complete the installation on the pre-cast façade panels and windows and begin to implement plans for the interior and gallery fit-out.
She said: “2022 will be an exciting year, where we will continue to commission world-class architects and designers, and procure contractors for both V&A East sites under construction in the Olympic park.
“We will be running a design competition next year to appoint a team for the galleries and will release a tender for a main contractor for the fit-out of front of house spaces, before we open to the public in 2025.”
The museum, on the Allies & Morrison-masterplanned Stratford Waterfront, will sit alongside new buildings for the BBC, London College of Fashion, Sadler’s Wells and UCL, as part of the £1.1bn East Bank cultural district.
The museum is one of two major new buildings for the V&A in Stratford. The other, also on site elsewhere at the East Bank, is V&A East Storehouse which is due to open in 2024 at Here East, Allies & Morrison’s Olympic media centre which was repurposed by Hawkins Brown after the games.
>> From the archive: O’Donnell: East Bank is enough work for us this year
O’Donnell & Tuomey is also designing the new East Bank venue for Sadler’s Wells.