V&A Visitor Experience

As finalists in an open competition to redesign the entrance of the Victoria & Albert Museum on Cromwell Road, we built our proposals around the idea that the building itself was the museum’s greatest exhibit. Our strategy was to liberate the spectacular Edwardian entrance space to take centre stage in the arrival sequence. In collaboration with Engine, Space Syntax and Ritchie+Daffin, we also asked bigger questions about how cultural institutions work, and how visitors use the space within them.

Our design anticipates a higher-performing visitor, technologically literate but with smaller windows of time available for visiting museums, shaping the space to enable them to spend as much time as possible in front of the object. The existing grand entrance hall was cluttered with cheap barriers, ticketing and security paraphernalia, so we removed these, placing a more streamlined service in the side vestibules so that the central area became a meeting space to feed the galleries.

With beacons to check in visitors who have booked online and robust but informal security, time is saved to focus on the collections. We designed the essential furniture elements – cloakroom counter, information points – as extrusions of the existing marble floor so they feel like they are a part of the building. Freed from its clutter, the entrance hall begins to work in a similar way to the museum’s central courtyard as a meeting place and wayfinding device.