after more than four years of construction, london’s V&A museum has completed its largest architectural intervention in over a century. named after the street it now embraces, the exhibition road quarter provides a new entrance to the museum and features the world’s first porcelain public courtyard — paved in 11,000 handmade tiles. designed by amanda levete and her practice AL_A, the project also includes a newly created colonnade and a column-free exhibition gallery.

exhibition road quarter amanda levete
all images © hufton + crow

 

 

formed from the aston webb screen — a listed portland stone structure built in 1909 to hide the museum’s unsightly victorian boilers — a reconfigured colonnade now serves as a welcoming entrance to the V&A. the original stonework retains the scars that world war II left on the museum, which is reflected in 11 sets of new metal gates. designed by AL_A, the new interventions present patterns of perforations that trace the imprint of the historic shrapnel damage.

exhibition road quarter amanda levete
a reconfigured colonnade now serves as a welcoming entrance to the V&A

 

 

visitors are then greeted by the sackler courtyard, a new civic space that comprises 11,000 handmade porcelain tiles. in addition to a café, which features furniture designed by AL_A and manufactured by moroso, the world’s first all-porcelain public courtyard reveals architecturally significant façades and details that have never previously been seen by the public. these include sgraffito decoration on the side of the henry cole wing — a decorative renaissance technique using multiple layers of colored plaster created by the museum’s first art students in the late 19th century.

exhibition road quarter amanda levete
the sackler courtyard is a new civic space that comprises 11,000 handmade porcelain tiles

 

 

the entrance sequence is continued internally with the blavatnik hall, which leads to a new shop and connects to the historic ceramic staircase. finally, the sainsbury gallery forms one of the largest temporary exhibition venues in the UK, providing 1,100 square meters of column-free space. the flexible volume is located above a floor dedicated to art handling, conservation, and preparation space. here, structural columns and beams have been painted international orange — a color used in the aerospace industry to set objects apart from their surroundings.

exhibition road quarter amanda levete
the entrance sequence is continued internally with the blavatnik hall

 

 

‘the V&A exhibition road quarter is a reflection of the pioneering identity of the V&A and continues its mission of innovation into the twenty-first century,’ says amanda levete of AL_A. ‘the quarter reimagines the museum as an urban project, creating an exceptional place for london that will redefine the V&A’s relationship with the street and the public.’

 

‘with its mix of ingenuity and imagination, the V&A has always been a meeting point for historicism and modernity,’ adds tristram hunt, director of the V&A. ‘the V&A exhibition road quarter bridges the two by offering fresh insights into our historic building with pioneering new architecture, creating london’s leading exhibition space.’

exhibition road quarter amanda levete
the hall leads to a new shop and connects to the historic ceramic staircase

 

 

with construction work well underway on new galleries in dundee and shenzhen, the opening of the project signals the start of a new era for the museum. since AL_A was commissioned to undertake the project in 2011, 22,500 cubic meters of earth have been removed from the site — 99% of which was recycled. the new spaces have created more than 6,000 square meters out of 2,200 square meters of underused space. the exhibition road quarter opens to the public on the evening of june 30, 2017.

exhibition road quarter amanda levete
the sainsbury gallery forms one of the largest temporary exhibition venues in the UK

exhibition road quarter amanda levete
the gallery provides 1,100 square meters of column-free space

exhibition road quarter amanda levete
structural columns and beams have been painted ‘international orange’

exhibition road quarter amanda levete
the world’s first all-porcelain public courtyard becomes gently illuminated at dusk

exhibition road quarter amanda levete
the exhibition road quarter opens to the public on june 30, 2017

 

 

 

project info:

 

client: victoria & albert museum
architect: AL_A
engineers (SMEP): arup
quantity surveyor: aecom
lighting designer: DHA designs
historic building adviser: giles quarme & associates
planning consultant: DP9
project manager: lendlease
main contractor: wates
specialist AWS contractor: PAYE
specialist subcontractors: koninklijke tichelaar makkum (porcelain tiles), octatube (oculus), midland alloy (aston webb screen gates), astins (gallery ceiling), EE stairs (gallery staircase), cornish concrete (stepped terrace), mazorati ronchetti (café bar)

 

AL_A team
principal: amanda levete
project director: alice dietsch
project architect: matt wilkinson
team: ho-yin ng, maximiliano arrocet, alex bulygin, blandine plenard, chiara zaccagnini, fernando ruiz barberan, filippo previtali, giulio pellizzon, matthew riley, michael levy, michael wetmore, patrick drewello, peter angrave, peter king, raffael petrovic, robert rice, rumen stefanov, song jie lim, stefano bertotti, stephen citrone, win assakul

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