“The Darwin Centre Phase One meets a complex brief and demanding performance specifications without sacrificing elegance.”
As the first phase of The Natural History Museum’s most significant development since it opened in 1881, the Darwin Centre offers visitors rare, behind-the-scenes access to the work and people of the museum. The building provides a new home for more than 22 million zoological specimens and laboratories for 100 scientists.
The team explored technical innovation within a design ethos of lasting civic architecture. The new building promotes research and exhibits its results in an atmosphere of dignified utility that has visual clarity, intellectual rigor and technical consistency.
The contemporary detailing recreates the historic tradition of “architecture parlante” – buildings whose external appearance describes what happens inside. The zoomorphic brackets of the solar wall, the changing appearance created by the sun-tracking metal louvers and the caterpillar-like inflated roof refer directly to the activities inside the building. The design team worked with English Heritage to ensure that the new building would complement nearby historical buildings.
The museum experienced increases in site-wide revenue, on-site functions, visiting scientists and website visitors.
120,000 sq. ft. / 11,150 sq. m.
Museum Exhibit Design
Specialist Storage Design
Businessweek / Architectural Record – Innovative Design that Achieves Strategic Goals
CoreNet Global UK Corporate Real Estate Awards – Innovation in Real Estate
Environmental Design and Construction magazine – Honorable Mention, Outstanding Commercial Interior
Increase in attendance in the new building’s first month
Amount of the museum’s collection that the new facility can display, compared to the 1 percent that was previously accessible