Lyons O'Neill

Victoria & Albert Museum

Viewed from both within the gallery and from the balcony above, the structure has the opportunity to present two faces. The structure is essentially all external allowing the internal space to be free of obstruction and ultimately flexible to the curator.

The lightweight box is achieved by suspending the roof members with a series of 1.5mm diameter cables from a simple frame hidden within the roof lantern. This allowed us to maximise the structural capacity of the sections creating a simple but elegant roof. The cables were individually positioned through holes in the roof level frame and tied together before constructing the box. Once installed the cables were draped and pushed through individual clutches to support the roof. Small springs were introduced to the cables to ensure tension was always present even with variation of loading and construction tolerances. The installation process was prototyped to develop a sequence
of working which allowed the structure to be delivered within programme and budget.

The entrance to the space creates a transitional lobby where a perceptual shift from the V&A proper to the Contemporary program is allowed to occur. It has been designed to offer different forms of access to the gallery through five seven-metre high rotating screens. The screens can be reconfigured to the curatorial needs of each exhibition and are clad in reflective black carbon fibre sheeting, a very lightweight skin more commonly found in aircraft manufacture.

Architect Block Architecture
Contractor WS Aspinalls
Value £650K