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Historic V&A Museum of Childhood signs up architects for its 21st century revamp

PUBLISHED: 14:31 14 March 2019

Pupils from Bethnal Green's Globe Primary take part in museum co-design session with AOC architects on March 4. Picture: V&A

Pupils from Bethnal Green's Globe Primary take part in museum co-design session with AOC architects on March 4. Picture: V&A

V&A

An ambitious contract to transform East London's landmark V&A Museum of Childhood into a state-of-the-art centre for the 21st century has been won by architects less than a mile down the road.

AOC winning architects team gets V&A Childhood Museum's contract... Geoff Shearcroft, Tom Coward and Gill Lambert. Picture: Phil SharpAOC winning architects team gets V&A Childhood Museum's contract... Geoff Shearcroft, Tom Coward and Gill Lambert. Picture: Phil Sharp

The AOC practice plans to unveil ideas for the Bethnal Green museum in the autumn, after beating off competition for the contract.

The scheme includes three new galleries to transform the Victorian redbrick building in Cambridge Heath Road into “a world-leading museum of design and creativity”.

The architects, whose practice is just 10 minutes away in Prichard’s Row, off Bethnal Green Road, are taking on consultants such as a materials specialist, digital strategist and furniture designer “to meet the needs” of today’s young people.

Iconic V&A Childhood Museum in Cambridge Heath Road to get a 21st century makeover. Picture: GoogleIconic V&A Childhood Museum in Cambridge Heath Road to get a 21st century makeover. Picture: Google

“We are developing a public building that is an essential civic space for Bethnal Green,” AOC’s Geoff Shearcroft said. “It’s going to be an interactive museum for all generations.”

The museum’s world-class collections are at the heart of the project, with the aim to increase the number of objects currently on display.

The transformation is now in the second year ‘design and content’ phase involving schoolchildren, teachers and community groups throughout the project.

Writing is on the wall for V&A Childhood Museum soon to get a makeover after 145 years. Picture: Mishko/PAWriting is on the wall for V&A Childhood Museum soon to get a makeover after 145 years. Picture: Mishko/PA

The V&A’s Philippa Simpson said: “AOC will play a role in our mission to create a place where everyone can see the potential of design to change the world.”

The revamp follows community projects such as A Pirate’s Life For Me which runs until April 22, and the Kids Takeover Day when schoolchildren take charge for the day.

The museum —a landmark of Bethnal Green for 145 years—is now part of the V&A “family of museums” and galleries. These include the world-renowned V&A in South Kensington, the V&A in Dundee and the V&A Gallery at Design Society in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland next to Hong Kong.

Two new centres in east London are also planned at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a museum and a collections and research centre on Stratford’s Lea River waterfront.

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