Natural History Museum Project leaves Wilder Associates shortlisted for BALI Award / by Kate Baker

  The Natural History Museum.

The Natural History Museum.

The re-generation of one of London’s most iconic buildings has led to Wilder Associates being shortlisted for a prestigious BALI award, in the Hardscaping non-domestic project over 1.5 million category.

Extensive refurbishment of the main entrance was completed in June this year, to coincide with the opening of the Hintze Hall, opened by the Duchess of Cambridge alongside Sir David Attenborough on July 13th 2017.  

The project is part of the overall strategy for the re-generation of the grounds that will see the return of ‘Dippy’ the Diplodocus, grazing in a primordial forest of ferns and cycads.  

The main entrance, previously a sea of tarmac and mismatched stone, has been refurbished to accommodate wheelchair access whilst presenting the heritage stone work. This required extensive reconstruction of the vaults below the entrance and the world-famous carriage ramps.  

The scheme involved the re-use of existing stone setts and a national search for stone to match the existing material including sandstone, granite and porphyry. The large forecourt has been reconfigured in elegant arc laid setts, with new technology enabling a surface water storage tank beneath.  

To complete, the large bastions on either side of the reconstructed steps, have been re-imagined as planters exhibiting plants from the Canary Islands, one of the first places that Charles Darwin stopped on his journey in HMS Beagle to the Galapagos Islands. It is a demonstration of the museums continuing work in the construction of the environment across the globe.

Although integrating the new design into the existing heritage proved challenging, the execution depicts a seamless transition from the museum’s original architecture to a more modern standard. Whilst ensuring the ethos of the original architect, Alfred Warehouse, is kept alive. 

The Bali awards take place at the Grosvenor Hotel on the 7th December, where the winner will be announced.

By Kate Baker