A Balenciaga inspired design has been revealed for the new V&A East building.
The new V&A museum is set to open in east London and will be the key part of a £1.1 billion project to transform the former Olympic site.
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, unveiled the plan for the East Bank development. The museum, a collaboration between the V&A and the Smithsonian Institute in the US, will be set in Queen Elizabeth Park, on the site of the London 2012 Olympics. The area will now be known as the East Bank.
Plans reveal that V&A East will look as if it were swathed in layers like a dress by the famous designer. The V&A’s South Kensington museum hosted an exhibition around Cristobal Balenciaga and his seamless designs last year.
Khan revealed that the new building will also be home to the BBC’s Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and the BBC Singers. It will host Proms performances. In addition, the new site will host the museum’s new Collection and Research Centre. This will render its archive at Blythe House in west London redundant and the building will be sold.
“V&A East will revolutionise how our world-class collections are accessed,” said Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A. “It will create a new museum, and open up opportunities for collaboration, learning and discovery in ways we’ve never been able to before.”
O’Donnell + Tuomey the Dublin-based architectural practice in charge of the project, were influenced by Balenciaga. He was famous for seminal creations such as the baby doll dress and the sack dress.
The design team focused in on an X-ray of a silk evening gown – one of the most studied items in the V&A’s show. It revealed the designer’s trademark technique – an intensely complex structure lying beneath an outwardly simple garment.
Culture and education
More buildings will join the V&A. Khan revealed plans for a new Sadler’s Wells theatre, a new UCL campus and a site for the London College of Fashion. The plans, he said, would put “culture and education” at the heart of the Olympic Legacy.
“My vision for East Bank is one where everyone, regardless of their background, can access world-class culture and education on their doorstep,” said Khan. “East Bank is a fantastic collaboration of inter-disciplinary work and world-class institutions that will drive forward growth and inspire more young Londoners to take up creative careers, transforming the communities of east London.”
The project has been supported by £385 million from the Mayor and £151 million from the Government. The aim is to replicate the successful postwar development of the South Bank, now a world-class home for the arts.
It is claimed that the new scheme is likely to create 1,500 jobs and 600 homes. It is estimated it will benefit the wider economy by £1.5 billion.
UCL is set to open from 2021. Sadler’s Wells, BBC Music, UAL’s London College of Fashion and UCL East’s second building will open in 2022. Both V&A sites are slated to open in 2023.
Scotland’s first design museum, V&A Dundee is set to open in September this year.
For more on Tristram Hunt’s vision, see Blooloop’s feature on his plans to ‘democratise access to beauty’.