The new Clothworkers' Centre designed for the Victoria & Albert Museum is located at Blythe House, a grade II listed building originally designed by Sir Henry Tanner in 1890. Dedicated to the storage, conservation and study of the Textile and Fashion Collection, the new Centre with a custom-built compressed storage system ensures the long-term preservation of the collection of over 104,000 items.
The brief was to create an enhanced 'behind the scenes' study experience, with the emphasis on a working Textile and Fashion Collection, where the storage and conservation elements were made explicit - a working studio rather than an exhibition room or a curated space. The study room area was to have a formal grandeur and scale similar to a reading room in a Library or a salon in a fashion house.
The public study and seminar spaces make the most of the buildings generous proportions, with new interventions designed to complement and reinforce the character of the existing building. A gold metal lighting and power rig defines the working area of the study room, which is separated from the Seminar space by full height glazed screens. A new conservation suite, with state of the art equipment, is located on the floor above.
A new accessible entrance is provided which re-instates the formal entrance from Blythe Road to create a welcoming street presence and a new reception lined by floor to ceiling glass cabinets houses the Eduardo Paolozzi 'Kit-Kat' Collection of toys and robots and changing displays from the study collections.
The Clothworkers' Centre
For the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion
Address: Blythe House, 23 Blythe Road, London
Completion Date: August 2013
Construction Cost: £2,171,000
Client: Victoria & Albert Museum
Main Contractor: Fairhurst Ward Abbotts
Project Manager: Lend Lease
Structural Engineer: Alan Baxter & Associates
Services Engineer: Zisman Bowyer & Partners
Lighting Consultant: DHA Design
Cost Consultant: Baker Mallett
Storage Contractor: Rackline
Wayfinding Consultant: Holmes Wood
Civic Trust Commendation
RIBA London Regional Award
AJ Retrofit Heritage Award