National Maritime Museum Greenwich Extension

National Maritime Museum, The Sammy Ofer Wing, London Building, Greenwich Architecture

National Maritime Museum London

RMG: Greenwich Building Development, UK design by C. F. Møller Architects

13 Jul 2011

National Maritime Museum Extension

Inauguration of C. F. Møller Architectsextension of the National Maritime Museum, London

Address: Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF

Phone: 020 8858 4422

Opening hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, check with operator

Architects of the original building: Christopher Wren, Inigo Jones

Established: 1937

C. F. Møller Architects has designed the extension of The National Maritime Museum in London, Britain’s seventh largest tourist attraction and part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. The new wing, called The Sammy Ofer Wing – named after the international shipping magnate and philanthropist Sammy Ofer, who has funded most of £36.5m extension – was inaugurated on the 12th of July with the participation of among others the British Prince Philip. On Thursday 14th of July the extension opens to the public.

National Maritime Museum Extension National Maritime Museum Extension
photos © National Maritime Museum

The National Maritime Museum houses the world’s largest maritime collection and is Britain’s seventh major tourist attraction with approx. two million visitors every year from around the world. The museum is housed in historic buildings, built in 1807, forming part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. The park incorporates a number of baroque buildings that are considered among the finest in Europe and is an essential part of Britain’s maritime history, particularly The Royal Observatory from 1676 and The Old Royal Naval College from 1712.

Striking – and though minimal interventions in sensitive historic site

The main idea of the extension – which C. F. Møller Architects won in an international architectural competition in 2006 – has been to ensure minimal interventions in this sensitive historic site and yet give the museum a new, distinctive main entrance and the necessary additional exhibition space, as well as a new café, restaurant, library and archives that meet the particular demands for storage of historical documents.

National Maritime Museum Extension National Maritime Museum Extension National Maritime Museum Extension
photos © National Maritime Museum

The design solution by C. F. Møller Architects has created a new main entrance emerging from the terrain. Most of the new building, however, is located underground – in total 5500 m2 out of 7300 m2. The roof of the new wing is a green, public landscaped terrace overlooking the Park, accessed at all levels by gentle ramps, even more so causing the building to blend with the park landscape.

The extension has a contemporary aesthetic, but is inspired by the Baroque buildings’ rhythmic sequence of windows, and the profile of the new extension has been kept low to allow the Grade I listed Victorian facade of the existing south west wing of the museum to be appreciated as a backdrop to the striking new building.

The goal of the expansion has been to open up the museum and allow the display of more collections than ever before. The museum’s collections range from e.g. a toy pig that survived the sinking of RMS Titanic to Lord Nelson’s last letter to his daughter. The maritime archive contains some 100,000 books and nearly two miles (3.2 km) of shelved manuscripts.

Notable cultural buildings in London

Head of C. F. Møller Architects Branch in London, Teva Hesse, states about the project: “It was a great honour for C. F. Møller Architects to design the new Sammy Ofer Wing within the sensitive and exceptional setting of Maritime Greenwich. In a limited space the project provides a great range of public amenities, museum facilities and visitor experiences. Most importantly, the architecture and landscape merge into a composition that seamlessly integrates the National Maritime Museum with Greenwich Park.”

C. F. Møller Architects has had the role as design architect, the British firm Purcell Miller Tritton was executive architect. The English firm Churchman Landscape did the landscape design.

C. F. Møller Architects also recently delivered another new, significant cultural building in the heart of London: the Darwin Centre Phase Two, the eight-storey concrete cocoon extension of The Natural History Museum, which is both one of the UK’s top five visitor attractions and a world-leading science research centre. The cocoon has already been honored with several awards, including the Civic Trust Award.

National Maritime Museum London images / information from C. F. Møller Architects

C. F. Møller Architects

National Maritime Museum Greenwich

News Update – Apr 2009

Purcell Miller Tritton reportedly to replace C. F. Møller Architects as the approved projects’ architects


The sketches for the extension of the National Maritime Museum, London, which C. F. Møller Architects has designed, have now been published. The construction is planned to start in summer 2009.

National Maritime Museum London
image from architects

In 2006 C. F. Møller Architects won the international architectural competition for a new wing of 5200 m2. The site is in the middle of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage site.

The new wing will house a large special exhibitions gallery, a new south entrance towards Greenwich Park, and the creation of storage facilities for the National Maritime Archive with associated learning and research facilities.

This project will open up and reveal to the widest possible audience the stories of people and the sea that are stored within the archives of the museum. Additionally the project integrates public facilities, a new café and restaurant.

C. F. Møller Architects has devised the design solution of a new east-west pedestrian route which brings the National Maritime Museum into a seamless integration with Greenwich Park, and creates a new level of visibility and accessibility for the museum.

Due to the heritage sensitivity of the site, the bulk of the new construction is kept below ground, meaning that the new wing becomes a combination of architecture and public landscape. The roof of the new wing is a landscaped terrace overlooking the park, and all levels are accessed by gentle ramps.

Location: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, England, UK

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