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Feilden Fowles wins National Railway Museum's Central Hall Design Competition

United Kingdom Architecture News - Mar 26, 2020 - 13:24   783 views

Feilden Fowles wins National Railway Museum's Central Hall Design Competition

The National Railway Museum and competition organisers Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) has announced the winning team for the international design competition to create the museum’s new Central Hall.

London-based architecture firm Feilden Fowles’ team, with Max Fordham and Price & Myers, has saw off 75 others to the commission for an iconic Central Hall that will transform the visitor arrival experience and integrate the museum’s estate in time for its 50th anniversary in 2025.

The jury praised the winning team’s design concept for its elegance, its ambitious energy strategy and its intriguing new visitor journeys.

The international jury composed of: Dame Mary Archer DBE (chair), Sir Ian Blatchford FSA, Gitta Gschwendtner, Zoe Laughlin, Karen Livingstone, Judith McNicol, Michael Squire, Malcolm Reading.

Feilden Fowles wins National Railway Museum's Central Hall Design Competition

Feilden Fowles' design proposal was selected from a shortlist of top international offices, including 6a architects and OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen, Atelier d'Architecture Philippe Prost, Carmody Groarke and heneghan peng architects.

Inspired by the site’s former uses, the design concept references the history of locomotive roundhouses and railway turntables with its central two-storey rotunda, which is clad with recycled patinated copper and lit with high clerestory glazing. An intriguing illuminated form that will attract visitors approaching from York Station and the wider city to the south, the rotunda also unifies the diverse buildings that make up the existing site.

On entering this new welcome and orientation space, the visitor’s gaze will be immediately drawn upwards to the engineered ceiling, stitched together with radials of UK-sourced Douglas Fir, described by the Jury as a spectacle. A first-floor balcony offers views of York, while at ground level five different portals will lead to different parts of the museum.

Feilden Fowles wins National Railway Museum's Central Hall Design Competition

The design concept expresses the team’s low-tech philosophy, dramatically reducing reliance on concrete and steel to lower embodied carbon through a beautifully crafted timber frame structure. A combination of passive design principles and active systems are proposed to reduce the site-wide operational carbon footprint by 80 per cent. Fully recycled copper and local York stone are also suggested as part of this strategy.

In response to the brief, the team also propose further enhancements to the adjoining museum buildings to make the overall ensemble more inviting and harmonious.

Feilden Fowles’ design concept was developed with fellow team members, Max Fordham as Building Services Engineers and Price & Myers as Structural and Civil Engineers.

The proposal was popular with the public, who were able to see the finalists’ schemes in a free exhibition and online gallery.

Feilden Fowles wins National Railway Museum's Central Hall Design Competition

The museum, part of the Science Museum Group, is poised to become the cultural anchor for York Central, one of the largest city centre brownfield regeneration projects in the UK and Europe.

A generous double-height gallery, the new Exhibition Hall will use the same grid as the existing Station Hall and celebrate its brick arched openings.

"Feilden Fowles demonstrated a real sensitivity to the site’s railway heritage and to the historic character of the city of York. The building will play a vital role in linking the museum and will provide a focal point for the wider York Central development," said Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum.

"We were delighted to share all the finalists’ design concepts both online and at the museum; this gave us a real sense of the incredible enthusiasm the public have for our vision to become the world’s railway museum."

Feilden Fowles wins National Railway Museum's Central Hall Design Competition

An honorarium of £30,000 will be paid to each shortlisted team with the conclusion of the competition. The competition was run by Malcolm Reading Consultants in accordance with EU procurement guidelines and UK Public Contracts Regulations 2015.

The National Railway Museum is ranked amongst the most popular attractions in the UK and welcomed 782,000 visitors in 2018-19. Located at the centre of York, the museum sits within a larger industrial site that was originally developed in the mid- to late-19th century by the North Eastern Railway Company. Surrounded by the remnants of this industry, the museum is today dominated by railway heritage and infrastructure.

However, York Central — a vast 45-hectare redevelopment comprising of a series of new city centre residential and business neighbourhoods — will transform the surrounding disused railway estate. This wider development has already achieved outline planning consent, including an envelope for the new Central Hall.

All images © Feilden Fowles

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