Museum of Childhood

Caruso St John, London, 2006


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

The impression of tautness intensifies where the entrance is allowed to recess 

David Grandorge     Download Original

  • The impression of tautness intensifies where the entrance is allowed to recess    
  • The polychromatic stonework of the new ‘loggia’ responds to the colours of the existing mosaics    
  • Undemonstrative and compact, the extension engages with its Victorian forebear through the expression of its facades    
  • The painted structural soffit gives a delicate impression, akin to folded paper    
  • The ‘surreptitiously flamboyant’ basement WCs    
  • The pattern on the underside of the mezzanine floor creates visual relationships with the structural forms    
  • Metal-framed glass cabinets refer to the elegant Aston Webb-designed originals    
  • The function of the central bay has been clarified in order to reveal the fish-scale pattern of the marble mosaic floor    
  • Patterned elevation    
  • Ground floor plan with key    
  • First floor plan with key    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Museum ceiling plan    
  • Paving plan    
  • Elevation    
  • Long section mezzanine    
  • Front entrance model    
  • Facade drawing    
  • Model    

Renovation and extension to improve facilities and add a new entrance pavilion to the street facade of the Grade II listed Victorian museum

The original listed building has an extraordinary history, its iron structure was first built in west London, on the site of what is now the main V&A building, to house displays from the Great Exhibition of 1851. It was later dismantled and rebuilt with new facades in east London.

A lack of funds at the time meant that the architect's plans for the museum's facade were never carried out, leaving the building without the proper entrance and front-of-house facilities a museum requires.

The first phase of improvements concentrated on renovating the roof and ceiling, on opening up the main hall and entrance sequence and a exhibition display on the first floor. The second phase completed the new collection displays, provided a new learning centre on the lower ground floor and added an entrance building to the front facade of the Grade II listed Victorian building.

The new entrance pavilion, with its patterned elevations of red quartzite and brown porphyries, gives the Museum the formal front and outward aspect that it previously lacked.


  • Begun: Jan 2006
  • Completed: Nov 2006
  • Floor area: 3,000m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £4.2M
  • Tender date: Dec 2005
  • Procurement: Traditional
  • Address: Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9PA, United Kingdom

Professional Team

AJBL Sponsor

Mumford & Wood

Specialist manufacturer of bespoke timber windows, doors and roof lanterns in period and contemporary designs

Find out more