New Arrivals at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Reed Watts Architects, London, 2017


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  • Tunnel Entrance view    
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  • View towards the two entrances    
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Refurbishment of two spaces at the Grade I listed museum in Kensington, London

Reed Watts won this commission in an invited competition, which sought proposals for two of the V&A Museum's arrival spaces. The project aims to improve and reinforce the relationship between these spaces and the elegant rotunda above.

The work to the tunnel entrance, used by over 750,000 visitors annually, has focused on the installation of a new, polychromatic marble floor in order to improve the impression of visitors arriving at the museum for the first time. The new floor is inspired by the many beautiful examples of stone and mosaic throughout the galleries. The original centre of gravity within this corner of the site is re-established by revealing the four primary columns and is further enhanced by the patterned floor and silver gilded ceiling.

The diagonal pattern in the marble floor draws the eye across the space, inviting exploration and checking the natural instinct to walk straight through the space into the Hintze gallery. The integration of black Nero Marquina skirtings and a White Carrara grid are key heritage components that help to knit the new space with the historical galleries into which it leads.

The second part of the project, the refurbishment of the former entrance on the ground floor, creates a new Members' Reception. Taking its lead from the tunnel entrance, the corners of the room are painted dark to reveal the primacy of the central structure, which climaxes in the rotunda.

Materials are replicated. The reception desk, sited below a new ‘living’ chandelier by Julian Melchiorri, is clad in coloured marble and topped with a hardwood counter from salvaged timber from the V&A archive.

The new doors are from the same salvaged timber new, but detailed and finished to match seamlessly with the hardwood drums above the doors. Space for cloaks and new display areas are located at the periphery.

The projects were sequenced to complement the V&A’s ambitious FuturePlan programme.


  • Begun: May 2017
  • Completed: Sep 2017
  • Floor area: 206m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £233,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Apr 2017
  • Procurement: JCT Minor Works
  • Address: V&A Museum, Cromwell Road , Knightsbridge, London, SW7 2RL, United Kingdom

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