Museum Or Exhibition Space
Winner: Hintze Hall, Natural History Museum by Casson Mann
Image Credit: Casson Mann and The Trustees Of The Natural History Museum, London
Sponsored by FX Talks 2020
Casson Mann’s design of Hintze Hall introduced a new vision for the Natural History Museum (NHM) while celebrating its scientific legacy. The aim was to reimagine the NHM’s founding vision as a ‘Cathedral to Nature’, celebrating the beautiful existing building, maximising its light and space, and reusing existing historic cabinets to showcase new specimens – the goal being to inspire the next generation of scientists and naturalists.
The restoration of the building fabric has been light-touch while the new displays refresh and enhance its original concept. The design considers scale, proportion, rhythm and materiality, manipulates natural and artificial light, and choreographs displays and visitor facilities. This works to reveal and celebrate the unique and awe-inspiring core of the museum.
The centrepiece is a real blue whale skeleton, suspended from the roof of the Grade I listed building. Replacing the well-loved but reproduction dinosaur, it is in keeping with the new focus on authenticity and the environment.
The Wonderbays created under the arches of the hall each contain a star object, from a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite to a giraffe’s skeleton. Each bay is a 3D picture frame, where plinths are subtly placed and lighting is carefully directed to enhance objects and architectural details. Minute attention was paid to the proportion, scale, and even the patterns present in Alfred Waterhouse’s architecture.
Casson Mann’s design solutions reframe the NHM’s relationship with its audiences, exploring humanity’s relationship with nature and reinforcing the message that we can save species from extinction if we make the right choices.The judges said...
‘A new face to an old loved friend. Great use of alternative display methods to bring out the best in the exhibits. Does what a museum should do… encourage you to look closer’
Finalists & Judges’ Comments
Center Manor Sales Center by CSK Design
‘Simple yet elegant design and materials’
Vanke Emerald Metropolis Sales Center by Enjoy Design
‘Wonderful sense of space; beautiful detail, timeless palette’
Heart’s Yearnings-R&F Bay, Yantai, by Excellent Decorate Engineering
‘Calm, sophisticated and refined’
British Museum: Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World by HOK + Stanton Williams
‘An inviting space; a great showcase for exhibits’
The Perfect Time for Whirlpool by Migliore + Servetto Architects
‘Dynamic design and well-executed installation’
Tell Me More by Rapt Studio
‘Poetic, socially minded and thoughtful. An exhibition to leave a lasting impression on the visitor’
Mt Fuji World Heritage Centre by Tanseisha
‘The design enables the window and the materials of the mountain to show a different side to its influence on the landscape’
Restless Youth, House of European History by Tinker imagineers
‘Effective design to explore style as well as culture over four decades’
Models in Model by Wutopia Lab
‘Clever use of alternative materials to make different zones. Showing the art and detail of models at its best’