V&A East plans unveiled including a new Collection and Research Centre by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Austin-Smith:Lord

V&A East Collections & Research Centre
V&A East Collections & Research Centre

V&A East plans unveiled including a new Collection and Research Centre by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Austin-Smith:Lord

Internal render view of the new V&A collection and research centre at Here East, with Altamira Palace ceiling installed © Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The V&A has unveiled plans that will revolutionise how its world-leading collection of art, design and performance are accessed, explored and experienced. The V&A East project will create two interconnected sites in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – a brand-new museum, and a new collection and research centre – that will open in 2023. V&A East will also host a unique and unprecedented partnership between the V&A and the Smithsonian Institution – the largest museum and research complex in the world. 

V&A East will provide a 360-degree view of the V&A, and illuminate the breadth of its work in ways that have not been possible before. Situated within the vibrant creative hub of east London and surrounded by four of the city’s fastest-growing and most diverse boroughs, V&A East will be firmly rooted in its local neighbourhood and global in outlook.

At Here East, the new Collection and Research Centre will reinvent the idea of a museum store. With a design led by New York-based practice Diller, Scofidio + Renfro (and supported by Austin-Smith:Lord), the Collection and Research Centre will bring treasures out of storage and into public view for the first time in generations.

The centre will be a purpose-built home for 250,000 objects and an additional 917 archives from the V&A’s collection of fashion, textiles, furniture, theatre and performance, metalwork, ceramics, glass, sculpture, architecture, paintings and product design.

Visitors will be invited on a behind-the-scenes journey that uncovers and demonstrates how and why objects are collected, how they are cared for, conserved and researched and how they help make sense of our past, present and future as part of exhibitions and public programmes.

A central public collection hall will turn the storage inside out. A rich array of objects will be on display for visitors to explore – from some of the smallest curiosities in the collection to the largest and most significant rooms and building fragments.

Highlights announced today include Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1930s office for Edgar J Kaufmann Jr. – a unique and complete 20th-century plywood interior – and a 15th-century marquetry ceiling from the now destroyed Altamira Palace near Toledo, Spain, which will be resurrected within the centre as a real architectural element above a new public space for displays and events.

Internal render view of the new V&A collection and research centre at Here East, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro © Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Further spaces within the Centre will host pop-up displays, workshops, performances and screenings alongside live encounters with the museum’s work – from conservation and research to exhibition preparation. This new model builds on the continued success of The Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion located at Blythe House in West London where the V&A’s collection is currently stored.

A dedicated viewing gallery will be created to showcase a changing display of rarely-seen large rolled objects from the V&A’s extraordinary collection of theatre stage cloths, carpets, textiles, tapestries and paintings, including a 15-metre-wide theatrical backcloth designed by Natalia Goncharova for the 1926 Ballets Russes London production of Stravinsky’s Firebird.

Ten minutes’ walk away at Stratford Waterfront, a five-storey museum designed by Dublin-based architects O’Donnell + Tuomey will take a 360-degree view on the designed world. Two collection galleries and a programme of major exhibitions will offer cross-cultural and contemporary perspectives on the way we live today. The top floor will feature commissions, installations and interdisciplinary projects generated through collaboration across the East Bank campus and beyond. Three outdoor terraces will give spectacular views across the Park.

A pioneering partnership with the Smithsonian Institution – the foremost museum and research complex in the US – will deliver an innovative programme bridging art, design, science and the humanities, exploring topics of pressing global importance to society today. The inaugural exhibition in 2023 will be a world-first co-production by the two institutions, after which one in four exhibitions will be from the Smithsonian’s acclaimed programme, brought from the USA to London for the first time.

The museum at Stratford Waterfront will sit alongside UAL’s London College of Fashion, a new Sadler’s Wells theatre, and BBC spaces for performance, rehearsal and broadcast – its founding partners in the East Bank project – the £1.1bn powerhouse of culture, education, innovation and growth taking shape as part of the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The partners are already active in east London with programmes of events, collaborations and activities developed together with local organisations and involving thousands of people from across the Olympic boroughs. Building relationships and networks across the many and varied local communities of east London is helping shape the collective East Bank project and ensure it is firmly rooted in its new neighbourhood by 2023.

V&A Director Tristram Hunt said “V&A East is timely and ambitious, allowing everyone to discover the national collections we look after in entirely new ways. With a 360-degree view of the V&A’s work – from collecting and conservation to experimental research and development – this future-facing project will bring art, design and performance into dialogue with current affairs, and will inspire the next generation of creative thinkers and the makers of the future.

 “Whether in Stratford, South Kensington, Scotland or Shenzhen, we are continuing to open up the vast collection that the V&A holds on the nation’s behalf, and we hope the V&A East becomes a place that sparks the imagination for generations to come.”

The V&A East project opens the latest chapter for the V&A in east London that began with the opening of the Bethnal Green Museum in 1872 – now the much-loved V&A Museum of Childhood which is itself undergoing a major transformation project in the coming years.

V&A East’s two venues will be open to everyone from school children, students, artists and designers to tourists, visiting academics and curious passers-by. People across the neighbouring boroughs are already helping to shape the project, and the V&A will continue to forge new partnerships as the project develops.

Tim Reeve, V&A Deputy Director and COO said “From the moment of an object’s acquisition, through its conservation, the research, enquiry and debate that follow, to its display as part of the story of an exhibition, V&A East will – for the very first time – illuminate the entire lifecycle of a museum and its collection in an ‘access all areas’ experience for visitors.”

 “It is vital that this latest member of the V&A family is developed collaboratively with its local community, and that we use this opportunity to deepen our long-standing relationship with east London. There is limitless scope for synergy and collaboration at Here East, and across the wider East Bank campus. Through our partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, we have the potential to support the next generation in east London and beyond – as change-maker, centre of innovation, and creative sourcebook for all.”

Elizabeth Diller, Partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro said:V&A East will be a new model for collection storage and public display. Planned from the inside out, this project will be like stepping into an immersive cabinet of curiosities—a three-dimensional sampling of the eclectic collection of artefacts, programmed with diverse spaces for research, object study, workshops, and back-of-house functions.”

Graham Ross, Partner at Austin-Smith:Lord, said; “We were thrilled to be invited by Diller Scofidio + Renfro to collaborate with them at the competition stage on this extremely exciting project for the V&A. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with the V&A and DS+R’s team, drawing upon our collective experience in delivering high profile arts and culture projects.”

Rob Firman, Project Director, Austin-Smith:Lord said; “The V&A’s vision for the V&A East is ambitious and pioneering. Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s design concept is a stunning architectural response. Having worked with Diller Scofidio + Renfro to develop the original concepts we look forward to working with the team through the next stages of the design and construction of this landmark project.”

Key project team members:
Client: V&A
Lead Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Executive Architect: Austin-Smith:Lord
Structures: Arup
Services: Arup
Cost Consultant: Gardiner & Theobald
Project Manager: Artelia
Principal Design Advisers: ORSA



For further PRESS information about the V&A East project please contact Benjamin Ward on benjamin@benjward.com / +44 (0)7837 134 193 (not for publication). A selection of press images is available to download free of charge from pressimages.vam.ac.uk

 Notes to Editors

The Victoria and Albert Museum, London (V&A) is the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity, spanning 5000 years of human creativity. It was established in 1852 to make works of art available to all and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. Today, its purpose is to champion creative industry, inspire the next generation, and spark everyone’s imagination.

Here East is located at the heart of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London and provides over one million square feet of dedicated and versatile spaces for creative and digital companies. It is designed as a place for start-up entrepreneurial businesses to co-exist and collaborate with global established businesses and support genuine product innovation.

The Here East campus includes shared workspaces and public areas to foster a tight community, with space for discussion and events, a landscaped canalside and artisan cafes, shops and restaurants.

Here East is home to an array of organisations, including Studio Wayne McGregor, UCL/Bartlett School of Architecture and University of Loughborough London, as well as BT Sport, Plexal – a world class innovation centre and Ford’s European Smart Mobility Innovation Office. Online luxury fashion retailer MATCHESFASHION.com, UK charity Scope, and video game company Sports Interactive have recently moved to Here East. Here East is being developed by iCITY, a company owned by clients of Delancey, a specialist real estate investment advisory company.

Smithsonian Institution. Since its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution has grown into the world’s largest museum, education and research complex.  It is composed of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoo, and nine research facilities. The Smithsonian is open 364 days a year (except for Christmas Day). There were more than 30 million visits to the museums and National Zoo in 2017.  The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at nearly 155 million. With museums in Washington, D.C. and New York City, as well as research programs and outposts in over 100 countries, the Smithsonian is shaping the future by preserving heritage, discovering new knowledge, engaging and inspiring people, and sharing resources with the world.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) is an interdisciplinary design studio based in New York. The studio has been distinguished with the first MacArthur Foundation fellowship awarded in the field of architecture and TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” list. The studio is responsible for two of the largest recent architecture and planning initiatives in New York City: the High Line and the transformation of Lincoln Center’s half-century-old performing arts campus.

The studio is currently engaged in two significant cultural projects, scheduled to open in 2019: The Shed, a cultural space that physically transforms to support artists’ most ambitious ideas; and the renovation and expansion of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). In addition to designing the V&A Collection and Research Centre, DS+R’s current projects in London include the London Centre for Music, a permanent home for the London Symphony Orchestra and a network of parks and riverside spaces spanning 5km in Greenwich Peninsula.

Austin-Smith:Lord is a leading multi-disciplinary design practice, with decades of experience and an impressive track record in successfully delivering high quality projects throughout the UK. The practice has a longstanding passion for arts and culture which is reflected in a distinguished list of completed projects. This portfolio includes internationally renowned museums, galleries and cultural archives providing some of the practice’s most rewarding experiences and signature projects.

Operating as a ‘creative collective’ from studios in London, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow and Liverpool, Austin-Smith:Lord delivers the highest degree of creative thought in architecture, landscape, conservation and urban design. There is an art to being practical. Current and recent art and culture projects include Shakespeare North near Liverpool, the Great Pagoda at Kew Gardens, G-Live Civic Concert Hall in Guildford, the People’s History Museum and John Rylands Library and Archive in Manchester, Liverpool Central Library and Archive, the Bluecoat and FACT in Liverpool, Shrewsbury Museum, Leeds Museum and Discovery Centre and Birmingham Royal Ballet.

O’Donnell + Tuomey is a studio-based practice, with offices in Dublin, Cork and London. Committed to the craft and culture of architecture, they have been involved with urban design, cultural, social and educational projects at home and abroad. The practice has an international reputation for its engagement with complex urban situations and sensitive landscapes. They have completed schools and university buildings, theatres and cinemas, community centres and social housing, art galleries and libraries in Ireland, the UK and on the European mainland. Winners of more than 120 awards, recent buildings include the Glucksman Gallery Cork, Timberyard Housing Dublin, Irish Language Centre Derry, Sean O’Casey Community Centre Dublin, Lyric Theatre Belfast, Photographers’ Gallery London, LSE Student Centre and the Central European University Budapest. They have exhibited six times at the Venice Architecture Biennale, with installations which advance their research into the useful beauty and poetic purpose of architecture, exploring areas of overlap with other art forms.