Place Visioning

V&A + RIBA Collections

New gallery delivered in prominent part of National Museum
Relocation of RIBA’s prints, drawings and photographs collection
Delivery of new architecture library and archive
Renovation of Henry Cole Wing


Project Background

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) was looking for a permanent solution to the storage, display and interpretation of its world-leading collection of architectural prints, drawings and models. At the same time, the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) was considering a major renovation of its Henry Cole Wing. Importantly, the V&A also holds the world’s largest collection of architectural fragments.

Recognising the value of combining these two collections, we worked with both organisations to conceive Architecture for All – a partnership that would create the world’s most comprehensive architectural resource.

Our Approach

We carried out independent options appraisals for both organisations, which pointed to the value of this partnership, and then produced a comprehensive Business Case for the preferred option. The Business Case helped to secure the necessary approvals from the Boards of both organisations, as well as the go-ahead from DCMS and HM Treasury.

We were then asked to coordinate a submission to the National Lottery Heritage Fund. In doing so, we helped to specify the design of the architecture gallery, reading room, library and archive. We worked with the learning and education officers of both organisations to articulate the public programme of architectural events and exhibitions that is central to the interpretation of these collections. To strengthen the application, we also worked closely with the V&A team to develop its first formal collecting and curatorial policy for architecture.

Results and Outcomes

Our work helped to resolve longstanding issues that had vexed both organisations for almost a decade. We conceived a solution that not only found a permanent home for both collections but consolidated prints, drawings, archives and objects into the world’s leading architectural collection.

Our application to the NLHF was successful, securing nearly £5 million toward the £7 million budget and the project was delivered on-time and on-budget.

Project focus