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Sun June 20 2021

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McLaughlin & Harvey to build V&A East research centre

18 Dec 19 McLaughlin & Harvey has been awarded a £26m contract for the construction of new collection and research centre for the Victoria & Albert museum (V&A) in east London.

© Diller Scofidio + Renfro, 2018
© Diller Scofidio + Renfro, 2018

Part of the V&A East project, the collection and research centre is one of two new public V&A venues now under construction in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. The other is a museum.

The new 16,000m2 purpose-built research centre, designed Diller Scofidio + Renfro, will have a ‘state-of-the-art flexible and responsive storage system’ to house 250,000 objects, 350,000 books and more than 1,000 archives spanning the V&A’s collection from fashion, textiles and furniture to painting, sculpture, ceramics, glass, design, architecture and digital arts.

A panoramic public collections hall will ‘immerse visitors in a 360 degree cabinet of curiosities-style experience’.

Back of house spaces including conservation studios and technical services workshops. Visible sightlines into these spaces will reveal the behind-the-scenes workings of the museum for the first time.

Most of the artefacts will be relocated to the new centre from Blythe House in West Kensington, where much of the V&A’s collection is currently stored.

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V&A East project director Claire McKeown said: “V&A East is one of the most significant and ambitious developments in the V&A’s history. Our collection and research centre will be a global first, combining a unique visitor attraction with a working museum store that meets the complex and varied needs of the V&A’s diverse collection. It’s an unprecedented and challenging brief, and we were impressed with McLaughlin & Harvey’s ingenious response, particularly their sensitive approach to integrating our large-scale collection objects, architectural fragments and historic interiors into the build. I look forward to having them onboard to realise Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s revolutionary designs as we build an exciting new future in east London.”

McLaughlin & Harvey construction director Michael Kieran said: “We look forward to supporting the V&A in the development of this facility, which will allow their unrivalled collections to be stored and explored.”

© Diller Scofidio + Renfro, 2018
© Diller Scofidio + Renfro, 2018

Together with a collection and research centre at Here East, a five-storey museum at Stratford Waterfront, designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey, will sit alongside UAL’s London College of Fashion, a new venue for Sadler’s Wells, and new BBC studios. 

Both V&A East venues are set to open in 2023 as part of the East Bank district taking shape in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. 

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