Award-winning architectural practice Carmody Groarke has unveiled the design of the new Members’ Room at the Victoria & Albert Museum, which opens to Members today. The studio has converted a top-floor, top-lit gallery space in Aston Webb’s Grade 1 Listed 1909 wing of the Museum to enable the V&A to host Members for hospitality events and refreshments.
Architecturally, the creative adaptation of the original gallery, which is both magnificent in character and vast in scale, has been envisaged as part of the natural continuum of the Museum fabric. As such, Carmody Groarke’s designs have subtly restored and retained existing spatial or detail character and where appropriate reinvented architectural features including lighting and furniture.
The atmosphere of the majestic gallery has been preserved as an open-plan, daylight-filled room. New architectural interventions have been added to accentuate the qualities of the original building, as well as provide visitor comfort with bespoke-designed furniture which creates smaller rooms within the overall space.
The Studio’s design has elevated the original floor level of the gallery almost half-a-metre to enable visitors to take in views from the existing windows to The Sackler Courtyard overlooking The Sainsbury Gallery, part of the newly unveiled V&A Exhibition Road Quarter, which also comprises The Blavatnik Hall. Large mirror installations amplify the energy and activity within the room, creating new perspectives from inside-to-outside, and to other levels within the Museum via a light well which connects the existing galleries.
A series of new furniture pieces and products have been designed by Carmody Groarke exclusively for the Members’ Room. Substantial decorative-marble tables harmonising with subtly-coloured, luxurious leather fixed-seating form a spatial counterpoint to the more light-weight, loose furniture and create a mixture of formal and informal areas within the overall Room.
Original gallery light fittings have been re-interpreted in the design of a new fluted-glass luminaire hanging in gently-glowing clusters overhead. The centrepiece of the Members’ Room is a huge, monolithic terrazzo bar, whose material is a contemporary interpretation of the white marble entrance staircase and whose sculptural, sectional form is intended to rhyme with the mouldings of the ceiling above.
Through a rich accumulation of details and design references - of tradition and invention - the intention has been to create a subtle but atmospheric backdrop to the Members’ Room, one where visitors feel welcome, comfortable and inspired.
Andy Groarke: “We are very proud to have delivered this important project as part of the V&A’s FuturePlan. Through every step in the process, the V&A have supported and encouraged us to create a unique architectural response to the overall gallery space as well as the details which make up its new character. We look forward to the Members being welcomed into the Room for events, celebrations, refreshment or relaxation as part of their visit to the Museum.”
Tim Reeve, Deputy Director of the V&A, says: “Our V&A members help underpin the success of the Museum, and we are thrilled to be opening such a beautifully designed new space for them right at the heart of the V&A. This summer has been the most popular in the V&A’s history, and we hope that our ever-expanding membership enjoy all that this wonderful new space has to offer, and look forward to welcoming current and future members to eat, drink, relax and explore with us in a Members’ Room to compare with the very best.”