Commonwealt Institute redevelopment . London


There is probably no other period to which contemporary architecture is more indebted than the 1960s – a period of structural invention that finally allowed modern architecture to break free from the formalist geometries through which it had manifested itself.

In the context of architecture's present quest for the iconic, the 60s experiments form a rich reservoir of precedents. It is unfortunate then that much 1960s architecture is now threatened with extensive demolition. With this project, we now the opportunity to conceive a new future for London's Commonwealth Institute and to ultimately rehabilitate a period that continues to inform contemporary architecture.
The original building, by Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners, completed in 1962, marks the transition from British Empire to Commonwealth and is regarded by English Heritage, the UK government's statutory adviser on the historic environment, as an important modern building. The Commonwealth Institute has stood empty and been closed to the public since 2002. In 2006, the grade II* listed building (one of the highest protection ratings possible in the UK), was threatened with demolition after a (failed) government proposal to delist it.
In December 2007, along with five other architectural firms, OMA was invited by Chelsfield deputy chairman Sir Stuart Lipton to consider the potential of the Commonwealth Institute site. OMA's design seeks to save the building by re-injecting life into the modernist monument while retaining its distinctive copper roof and parabolic form. New residential accommodation will integrate into the existing fabric of the site, regenerating the western end of Kensington High Street.

Partners in charge:
Rem Koolhaas, Reinier de Graaf

Associates in charge:
Richard Hollington III
Beth Hughes

Caroline Andersen, Luis Arencibia, Fred Awty, Thibaut Barrault, Katrin Betschinger, Philippe Braun, Matthew Brown, Kees van Casteren, Johan Dehlin, Sebastien Delagrange, Hannes Gutberlet, Joyce Hsiang, Yerin Kang, Bin Kim, Andrew Kovacs, Caroline Martin, Barbara Modolo, Adrian Phiffer, Alex Rodriguez, Lawrence Siu, Boris Vapne, Delnaz Yekrangian, Nikos Yiatros

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