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Design concepts for National Railway Museum’s Central Hall revealed

  • Finalist design concepts by emerging star architects displayed in online gallery, and at an exhibition at York’s National Railway Museum from 13 February 2020
  • Public comments welcomed at exhibition or via email
  • Michael Squire, founder of architectural practice Squire and Partners, announced as final Juror
  • Competition winner to be revealed in March 2020

The National Railway Museum and Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) today [Thursday 13 February 2020] unveiled the five design concepts created by international and UK teams for the museum’s emblematic new Central Hall.

The designs by emerging star practices are now available to view on the competition website and at a free public exhibition in the National Railway Museum’s Great Hall, which will run from 13 February to 29 March 2020.

Members of the public are invited to share their views on the five proposals until Sunday 23 February — by filling out a comment slip at the exhibition or by emailing the competition organisers.

With a construction budget of £16.5 million, the new Central Hall will transform the visitor arrival experience with an appealing and compelling entrance space, integrating the museum estate for the first time in its history. This 4,500 sqm centrepiece building will also create a spectacular 1,000 sqm gallery intended to showcase innovative technology and introduce the museum’s world-class collection.

Central Hall will open in time for the museum’s 50th anniversary in 2025. The initiative will enable the museum, which aims to become the ‘world’s railway museum’, to welcome an estimated 1.2 million visitors annually, as well as renew its presence and identity as it becomes the cultural anchor for York Central, one of the largest city centre brownfield regeneration projects in the UK.

Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum, said:

‘I am very pleased to share the five design concepts for our new Central Hall which will showcase our collection and future innovations from the rail industry in an inspirational, purpose-built gallery.
‘I encourage people to visit and to share their feedback. Although the final designs are some way off, the winning team will go on to create the final building which will be the cultural focal point at the heart of York Central.’

Karen Livingstone, Science Museum Group Director of Masterplan and Estate, said:

‘I am thrilled with the responses from all the finalist teams, which have exceeded our expectations in their variety and imagination.
‘All five have offered intriguing takes on form and materials which respond to the brief in different ways, ranging from curvilinear to rectilinear shapes; which are by turns, strongly coloured, sensory and tactile.
‘I am particularly pleased that all five teams have taken seriously our ambition to create a sustainable building, which will be open for all, and be part of the landscape of this historic site.’

Malcolm Reading, Competition Director, said:

‘We always knew this was a very special shortlist – five exceptional small to medium-sized practices, from diverse backgrounds and brimming with talent.
‘These are charismatic design concepts – the best concepts here have the potential to be iconic, to catch the eye and hold it.
‘The Jury will be fascinating.’

The concept designs on show are the work of five teams shortlisted in November 2019 (in alphabetical order):

  • 6a architects (UK) and OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen (Belgium)
  • Atelier d’Architecture Philippe Prost (France)
  • Carmody Groarke (UK)
  • Feilden Fowles (UK)
  • heneghan peng architects (Ireland)

The five teams were responding to a brief that included a need for Central Hall to be environmentally sustainable as well as sensitive to the railway heritage of surrounding buildings and the city of York.

The finalist teams were selected from a field of 76 entries by a panel led by Dame Mary Archer DBE, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Science Museum Group. No design was sought at the competition’s first stage — competitors made submissions based on past experience and team composition.

The shortlisted teams then attended a site visit and had three months to develop their designs.

Each finalist team that submits a compliant proposal will receive a £30,000 honorarium at the conclusion of the competition.

Later in the month, the teams will be interviewed by the distinguished Jury, who will evaluate the proposals and then select a winner. The Jury will receive a summary of all public comments collected by Sunday 23 February.

Michael Squire, founder of architectural practice Squire and Partners, has been confirmed as the final member of the Jury.

The full Jury is as follows:

  • Dame Mary Archer DBE, (Chair), Chair of the Board of Trustees, Science Museum Group
  • Sir Ian Blatchford FSA, Director and Chief Executive, Science Museum Group
  • Gitta Gschwendtner, Director, Gitta Gschwendtner Design Consultancy
  • Zoe Laughlin, Director, Institute of Making
  • Karen Livingstone, Director of Masterplan and Estate, Science Museum Group
  • Judith McNicol, Director, National Railway Museum
  • Michael Squire, Senior Partner, Squire and Partners
  • Malcolm Reading, Competition Director (Jury Adviser)

The National Railway Museum is ranked amongst the most popular attractions in the UK and welcomed 782,000 visitors in 2018-19. Located close to 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 45-hectare redevelopment comprising of a series of new city centre residential and business neighbourhoods — will transform the surrounding disused railway estate. This wider regeneration, which is expected to give a £1bn+ boost to the local economy, has already achieved outline planning consent, including an envelope for the new Central Hall.

The competition is being organised by independent specialists Malcolm Reading Consultants and is being run in accordance with EU procurement guidelines and the UK Public Contracts Regulations 2015.