The V&A Members’ Room
Award-winning architectural practice Carmody Groarke has unveiled the design of the new Members’ Room at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The studio has converted a top-floor, top-lit gallery space in Aston Webb’s Grade I listed 1909 wing of the Museum to enable the V&A to host members for hospitality events and refreshments.
The creation of the members’ room within the London institution has led to a 2018 RIBA London Award. The project has been described as ‘distinguished’ in its successful attempt to create a vibrant place to gather that is connected to the entrance sequence of the museum and also to its gallery space below.
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 detailed character and where appropriate have 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 buildings as well as provide visitor comfort with bespoke-designed furniture creating 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 atmospheric backdrop to the Members’ Room, one where visitors feel welcome, comfortable and inspired.
Andy Groarke from Carmody Groarke commented: “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.”
S I Electrical Ltd is a specialist lighting and electrical contractor, working predominantly within the museum sector, supplying and installing throughout the UK and overseas. Working on the V&A Members’ Room they were responsible for the complete electrical installation, including the specialist lighting and controls.
S I Electrical Ltd Managing Director, Simon Wyeth, said:
“We’ve worked with The V&A for many years – we love being involved with projects like this and enjoy working with the V&A team.”
White & White London Contracts specialise in the manufacture, supply and installation of high quality wood and stone surfaces. Working on The V&A Members Room, White & White London Contracts processed and re-machined the V&A’s reclaimed wood blocks before installing, sanding, sealing and finishing them throughout the Members’ Room over 400sm.
Mark Brown, White & White London Contracts, said:
“We have had the pleasure of previously working in a large number of high-end commercial, residential and public listed buildings over the years and although this was our third project for the V&A we still feel very privileged to have been part of this project.”
Commenting on the project, Tim Reeve, Deputy Director of the V&A said: “Our V&A members help underpin the success of the Museum, as we are thrilled to have opened such a beautifully design 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 what 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.”
The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. It was established to make works of art available to all and to inspire British designers and manufactures. Today the V&A’s collections, which span over 5,000 years of human creativity in virtually every medium and from many parts of the world, continue to intrigue, inspire and inform.
About Carmody Groarke
Carmody Groarke is a London-based architectural studio, established in 2006 by Kevin Carmody and Andy Groarke. Since its formation the practice has gained a strong reputation for working on a wide range of arts, cultural, heritage and residential projects, both new build and within the context of historic buildings. The work spans a range of timescales from temporary pavilions to permanent memorials.
Concept Bars is a pure bar specialist, providing high quality functional bars for the hospitality industry. The company consults, designs, manufactures, supplies and installs and has been at the forefront of the hospitality field since its inception 28 years ago.
Past specialist projects for Concept Bars have included The Design Museum, Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Royal Festival Hall, National Theatre, Immediate Media HQ, The Langham, Dorchester & Grosvenor House Hotels, The London Coliseum, Duck & Waffle and projects for D & D Restaurants, amongst many, many others.
Concept Bars Founder and Director, Ian Gillings, said:
“At Concept Bars, we pride ourselves not only on the quality of our product and our service, but also on our ability to listen to our clients. We realise their vision, always offering the best advice and our in-house experienced manufacture and installation teams ensure a quality offer.
“We have worked on many special projects and this one, on behalf of our client Benugo to provide a quality first class operational bar and matching finishing kitchen to a stunning design by Carmody Groake Architects for the V&A Members’ Room, was another.”
Ian added: “It was a privilege to work with Carmody Groake and the chosen specialists to deliver the project to such detail and to provide another special restaurant for the Benugo team.”