Visitors entering the V&A Museum from Cromwell Road will now take their first steps into the museum through a lobby transformed by a new glazed entrance and information/ticket desk.
Installed behind the historic doors and large arched window at the entrance, the glazed structure is formed of glass tubes arranged on three levels. The tubes get progressively thinner as the levels rise - with 120mm tubes at the lower level and 60mm and 30mm on the mid and upper levels.
The use of glass provides transparency and lightness, the tubes chosen for their magnifying properties. During the day, natural light is captured by the glass tubes and is projected inside the building. By acting like a lens, the glass tubes produce an optical illusion of movement and dynamism triggered by visitors approaching the entrance from the outside.
The steel frame structure is primarily constructed from slender flat bar sections, used to minimise visual impact and maximise the glazed area. The flat bars transfer the weight of glazing down onto a ground-level steel channel. At the lower level, horizontal loads are transferred down to that same channel and thus into the floor. At higher level, the loads are transferred into a stiff steel ring beam which provides overall stability for the unclad structure.
The structure was brought to site as a series of fully welded, prefabricated components and bolted together using countersunk sex bolts, chosen for their discreet appearance.
A pair of sliding doors completes the structure, improving access and enhancing the environmental performance of the building.
This contemporary addition to the Aston Webb-designed Grade I listed building offers a playful sense of arrival to visitors, while indirectly encouraging visitors towards the reception desk and to the museum’s collection of applied arts.