Brunel Museum Building Competition, Southeast London Architecture, Architect, Project

Brunel Museum Competition : Rotherhithe Building

Rotherhithe Project : London Design Contest – design by dRMM architects

23 Jan 2009

Brunel Museum Building

dRMM have won a limited competition to develop the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe, South London.

Brunel Museum invited six architects to come up with strategies for its site in Southwark. Along with ideas for the development of the existing museum, the special challenge was to make accessible (for the first time since 1865) the 50ft diameter vent shaft and former stairwell to the Thames Tunnel.

Brunel Museum
picture from architects

dRMM’s phased strategy includes creating better public realm around the museum, building a spiral cylinder in the airspace above the subterranean shaft as new museum space, and providing a suspended mobile platform as a programmable public access staging to all levels, old and new.

dRMM Director Alex de Rijke said, “dRMM’s proposal consists of several ambitious sitespecific responses, inspired by the Brunel legacy of inventive lateral design. We also believe that temporary architecture can create long-term benefits. Look at Brunel’s economic yet spectacular timber viaducts for Cornwall, for example. They enabled Londoners to see the sea, locals to escape poverty, and lasted for over 80 years.”

Brunel Museum competition judges included Chair of the Trust engineer Bryn Bird, Museum Director Robert Hulse, Trustee Molly Lowell and Patron Piers Gough of CZWG Architects LLP. The decision to choose dRMM was unanimous. Piers Gough concluded, “The Brunel Museum chose dRMM ahead of their rivals due to their clever grasp of the situation and its opportunities, coupled with their own technologically imaginative passion”.

Alex de Rijke, Philip Marsh and Sadie Morgan founded dRMM, a London-based studio of international architects and designers, in 1995.

The Brunel Museum
The Brunel Museum celebrates the lives and work of two of the greatest engineers Britain has seen: Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. What better place for a Brunel museum than above the Thames Tunnel – the only project that father and son worked on together. In 1825 they began the first tunnel to be built with a tunnelling shield and pioneered a method for building tube systems still in use today. The Thames Tunnel is the oldest tunnel in the London Underground and carries a railway under the River Thames over 180 years after work started on it. (The East London Line has now closed although this is only as refurbishment for it to become a part of the new London Overground system.) Exhibits arranged over two floors commemorate Brunel’s first and last projects: the Thames Tunnel as birthplace of the tube system and the Great Eastern Steamship as the first modern ocean liner. A well-stocked souvenir shop holds reminders for everyone from children to the most dedicated armchair engineers.

Brunel Museum Building image / information from dRMM

Brunel University London


Location: Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe, London, England, UK

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