Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB
Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB
Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB

UK's Royal Air Force receive planning permission to dramatically revamp London's RAF Museum

The new buildings and museum masterplan will bring a much-needed coherence to the site, and will offer new spaces that enhance visitor experience and better communicate the story of RAF people and technology for its centenary year and beyond
– Alan Dempsey, Nex founding director

The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force (RAF) will celebrate its centenary in 2018 by renovating the RAF Museum in London into “a world-class visitor facility.”

Nex–Architecture and Agence Ter Landscape Architects have been commissioned to revamp the historic site, which sits on the edge of the former Hendon Aerodrome in the city’s Colindale area. The airfield was one of the first in the country and was instrumental during the Battle of Britain in the Second World War. It has housed the RAF Museum since 1972.

The design by Nex will establish a prominent new entrance and visitor centre within the reconfigured Hangar 1 building, with a clearer route leading visitors through the exhibition spaces and past viewing galleries overlooking the exhibited aircraft. The new foyer will be signalled by a dramatic 40m long entrance with a deep, cantilevered roof canopy for sheltering large crowds.

A central hub will be created within the hangar, providing a café, shop, members’ room, galleries and flexible use spaces. Clad in extruded aluminium fins and inspired by the overlapping blades of a jet turbine engine, the architect's plan for it to “play with visitors’ perceptions of transparency and solidity as they move around the building.”

Two new exhibitions will be created for the museum: RAF First 100 Years and RAF Lab, while the well-known Sunderland bomber exhibition will also be delicately refreshed – although the aircraft at its centre is too fragile to be moved.

Additional facilities will include a 170-seat restaurant, which Nex will create by converting one of the few original airfield buildings – a semi-derelict former officers’ mess dating from the 1930s. The original brick walls and steel roof trusses will be retained, with new ash panelling, display cabinets, stained oak flooring, white interior walls and extensive glazed roof lights subtly modernising the building.

“The new buildings and museum masterplan will bring a much-needed coherence to the site, and will offer new spaces that enhance visitor experience and better communicate the story of RAF people and technology for its centenary year and beyond,” said Alan Dempsey, founding director of Nex. “The evolution of flight has been one of the pivotal technical advancements of the 20th Century, and the RAF is one of its most significant pioneers.”

A new landscape strategy, designed by Agence Ter, will create a greener setting for the museum buildings, with circulation and views inspired by runways. A circular ‘taxiway’ at the site’s heart will allows access to all exhibitions.

Construction will begin on site in January 2017 and is due to be completed by Q1 2018 to coincide with the centenary programme.

Royal Air Force  RAF Museum  London  architecture  design  Colindale  Nex–Architecture  Agence Ter Landscape Architects 
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The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force (RAF) will celebrate its centenary in 2018 by renovating the RAF Museum in London into “a world-class visitor facility.” Nex–Architecture and Agence Ter Landscape Architects have been commissioned to revamp the historic site, which sits on the edge of the former Hendon Aerodrome in the city’s Colindale area. The airfield was one of the first in the country and was instrumental during the Battle
CLD,VAT,HAM,ARC,DES
The Sunderland bomber exhibition will be carefully renovated / Hayes Davidson
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Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB
Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB