Commonwealth Institute London Images, Architecture Redevelopment News, OMA Design UK

Commonwealth Institute London Redevelopment

Kensington High Street Building Project design by OMA architects

18 Sep 2009

Date built: 1962

Design: RMJM architects

Grade II* listed : saved from potential demolition 2007

Loction: Kensington High Street, west london, England, UK

OMA’s Plans For Commonwealth Institute Site Given The Go Ahead

Commonwealth Institute Building

London, 18 September 2009 – Plans by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) for a new location for the Design Museum and new housing on the site of the former Commonwealth Institute on Kensington High Street were approved yesterday by the Planning Committee of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The scheme was submitted to Kensington and Chelsea in April 2009 and revised in August 2009 after having been challenged by various conservation groups. The revisions include a rescaling of the three residential blocks and a change to the alterations for the interior of the existing exhibition building.

The Commonwealth Institute has stood empty and been closed to the public since 2002. In 2006, the grade II* listed building (one of the highest protection ratings possible in the UK), was threatened with demolition after a (failed) government proposal to delist it.

OMA’s design seeks to save the building by re-injecting life into the modernist monument while retaining its distinctive copper roof and parabolic form. Three new residential buildings will integrate into the fabric of the site, and aim to create a boost for the western end of Kensington High Street.

The move will give the Design Museum three times more space than its current home on the South Bank. Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum, said: “We are thrilled with the outcome, which now opens the way for the Design Museum to realise its vision of becoming a world-leading creative centre for design and architecture”.

Reinier de Graaf, OMA’s partner in charge of the project, said: “We are extremely pleased with the decision of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. From the beginning of our work on the project, we were acutely aware of the sensitivity of the context. We always believed that a correct means of paying respect to this history is to ensure its evolution and integration with contemporary London.”

Commonwealth Institute Restoration
Date: 2001
Avery Associates
Construciton Cost: £3m

Commonwealth Institute Redevelopment – Apartments
Developer : Chelsfield Partners
Architect: OMA; Foster & Partners were initially linked with this project early in 2007
£150m approx.

Commonwealth Institute – Design Museum News
18 Aug 2009

Update on Planning Submission for new Design Museum on former Commonwealth Institute Site

OMA to Redevelop Modernist London Icon

Commonwealth Institute London
image © OMA

Rotterdam, March 19 2008 – The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has been selected to redevelop the iconic Commonwealth Institute in Kensington and Chelsea, London, by Chelsfield, one of the United Kingdom’s major property development groups, and their partner Ilchester Estate. The project includes the addition of a major residential scheme alongside the rejuvenation of the 1960’s structure at the edge of Holland Park.

In December 2007, alongside 5 other competitors, OMA were invited by Chelsfield deputy chairman Sir Stuart Lipton, to consider the potential of the Commonwealth Institute site.

Commonwealth Institute Building
image © OMA

Two years ago the grade II* listed building, one of the highest protection ratings possible in the UK, was threatened with demolition following a UK government proposal to delist it. This collaboration seeks to save the building by re-injecting life into the modernist monument whilst retaining its distinctive copper roof and parabolic form. New residential accommodation will integrate into the existing fabric, regenerating that end of Kensington High Street.

Asked to comment, Reinier de Graaf, OMA’s partner in charge of the project, said OMA was excited by the prospect of this collaboration and intended to take a respectful approach to redeveloping the sixties icon: “OMA will explore a number of uses appropriate to the existing design, capitalizing on the building’s dynamic interior spaces. Careful consideration will be given to the relationship with Holland Park, possibly extending the park condition across the site connecting to the street. Any new residential development should serve to complement the qualities of the existing building.”

The greatest challenge facing the project will be acknowledging the architectural quality of the Commonwealth Institute whilst simultaneously creating a distinct and contemporary project.

“The site is complex: to the north it is separated by a wall from Holland Park and to the south it causes a disruption in the continuous frontage of Kensington High Street. The project will have to find inventive solutions to address these conditions.”

Commonwealth Institute
image © OMA

The Commonwealth Institute redevelopment is OMA’s 3rd project in London. OMA is also working on a new headquarters for Rothschild on St Swithin’s Lane in the City. Furthermore, OMA are developing a masterplan for White City in west London.

OMA was selected by the site owners from a shortlist of six international architects which included Rafael Moneo, Rafael Viñoly Architects, Eric Parry Associates, Caruso St John, and Make Architects.

The original building by Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners, completed in 1962 marks the transition from British Empire to Commonwealth and is regarded by English Heritage, the UK government’s statutory adviser on the historic environment, as an important modern building.

The Commonwealth Institute project is led by Reinier de Graaf who also leads the masterplan for White City, the Riga Contemporary Art Museum, the new Waterfront City in Dubai and the Gateway City project in Ras al Khaimah (UAE).

Commonwealth Institute London Building – images / information from Office for Metropolitan Architecture 190308

Commonwealth Institute Summary
Competition winner : OMA – Rem Koolhaas + Reinier de Graaf

Commonwealth Institute architect – site redevelopment : OMA

Location: Kensington High Street, London, England, UK

London Buildings

Contemporary London Architecture

London Architecture Designs – chronological list

Architecture Tours in London by e-architect

London Architecture Offices

Another UK project for Rem following news in early 2008 of his commission to design a Maggies Centre (in Glasgow).

Shortlist incl. Caruso St John, Eric Parry, Make, Rafael Moneo & Rafael Viñoly
Chairman of the Jury: Paul Finch

Commonwealth Institute Restoration : more details

London Architecture

Foster & Partners

Rem Koolhaas

Commonwealth Institute original architect : RMJM Architects

Lanesborough Hotel & Spa, Hyde Park Corner, Belgravia, Southwest London
Architecture: Filer & Cox ; Interiors: 1508
Lanesborough Hotel & Spa, London Club
image from architects
Lanesborough Hotel & Spa

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