Big names feature in revamp of Natural History Museum's landscape

A green square will be among the features of a new public realm that is being developed outside London's Natural History Museum.

Landscape architect Kim Wilkie, who has already worked on sites at the neighbouring Victoria & Albert Museum as well as Hyde Park Corner, has formed a partnership with Niall McLaughlin Architects.

The partners won a competition launched by consultancy Malcolm Reading in autumn 2013 to redevelop the museum's exterior grounds. Wilkie and Niall McLaughlin plan to create a setting in the museum's grounds that matches the building and improves visitors' overall experience.

Other professionals joining the museum project include landscape architect Peter Wilder, engineers Expedition and Atelier 10, exhibition designers Thomas Matthews and wild flower specialist Professor Nigel Dunnett.

Wilkie said: "The project is most likely continuing over the next 10-20 years, but I am hoping that we will have some more details available by next year."

The new landscape will flow from east to west - "from extinct to extant, starting with pre-Cambrian geology and culminating in future nature".

He added: "The project will cover many different aspects of the museum, including the natural world. It's a demonstration of natural resilience in a city experiencing turbulent climate."

The design includes a new green square connecting to Exhibition Road and sailing over a new entrance, linking direct to the South Kensington tube tunnel.

Wilkie has also designed a memorial garden in Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill's death.

Details of the design for the birthplace of Winston Churchill have not yet been announced. The scheme is the winning design of a competition launched by the current Duke of Marlborough, John-Spencer Churchill.

Wilkie said: "It's going to be installed in the glade where Churchill proposed to Clementine Hozier (during the summer of 1908). We are starting the construction work this autumn so that the garden will be ready by next year."

Wilkie has also drawn up plans for the public realm outside what is set to be the new Vitsoe furniture factory in Leamington Spa.

He said the redevelopment features a "corrugated earth" ridge and furrow pattern that "flows into the new factory and around the building". He added: "The land looks like corduroy and the design is based on what is very traditional in that area."

Wilkie explained: "The initial brief was for a landmark building but then the client said: 'Actually, I would rather it be a landmark landscape.'"


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