Victoria & Albert Museum, Exhibition Road
2011, London, England
Victoria & Albert Museum is a the world’s leading museum of art and design, whose key strategic objectives are explicitly to provide optimum access to diverse audiences, now and in the future; to be both national and international; to promote, support and develop the UK creative economy by inspiring designers and makers and by stimulating enjoyment and appreciation of design, and to operate with financial and organizational efficiency. To the audience, the public at large, this is the authoritative permanent collection representing sculpture, ornamentation and craft.
To realize here a courtyard that is the warmest and most welcoming possible, and that still maintains flows and capacities, the proposal is premised on the creation of a quiet, sensitizing atmosphere – not in competition with the beautiful facades flanking the courtyard, but adding the euphoria of the ornamental quality of Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper). The south-facing façade of the volume in the North-East corner of the courtyard is where the vertical curtain of Virginia creeper paints the seasons. In good-humored dialogue with this living green wall is its bronze reflection - the softly meandering ribbon-like balustrade, decorated with repetitive panels of cast bronze. The bronze balustrade has additional functional performances: it carries the regulation compliant handrail, also of bronze, and at night LED lights installed behind the panels glow, light bouncing and layering like a miracle coming to the eye and filling the mind with illusion.
Local quartzite, a stone whose white tones have a golden hue, is arranged in alternating smooth (cut) and rough (split-face) 1 meter bands in a pattern responsive to both structure and circulation.