Retrofitting a great British building

In converting the Commonwealth Institute into the new home of the Design Museum, a team of architects, engineers and conservation specialists were enlisted to bring back to life a listed work of Johnson-Marshall and Partners, an early 1960s Modernist landmark which had long stood empty. Their work was recognised last month with an AJ Retrofit Award, taking the prize in the Cultural Buildings category.

Organised by The Architects’ Journal, the AJ Retrofit Awards ‘recognise and celebrate design, engineering and construction excellence that prolongs and improves the life of the built environment’, appreciating that an estimated £500 billion will be spent over the next 30 years adapting new buildings.

Our work on the Design Museum as part of a collaborative team comprising OMA, John Pawson and Arup included the redesign of the building’s facades, restoration of the building’s facades, restoration of the building’s memorable parabolic roof and comprehensive redesign of the interior spaces to suit the needs of an entirely new tenant – the Design Museum.


Allies and Morrison partner Simon Fraser and Jan Hobel from John Pawson Ltd will be presenting the Design Museum as part of this autumn’s Great British Buildings series at the RIBA, 1 November at 6:30pm in the Wren Room, 66 Portland Place, W1B 1AD

Photograph by Nick Guttridge.