V&A Exhibition Road Quarter

Designboom and Dezeen list Exhibition Road Quarter in 2017 top 10 museum projects.

The V&A Museum’s Exhibition Road Quarter, designed by AL_A, is a contemporary addition to an original Victorian-era building that was funded by the profits of the 1851 Great Exhibition. The new area comprises a courtyard, paved with handmade porcelain tiles, an angular café pavilion, a colonnade opening on to Exhibition Road, and an underground gallery with a faceted, origami-style ceiling.

We designed and placed all signs for the 6,360-square-metre area, including front- and back-of-house, and all gallery, directional and building regulation signage. Th success of this wayfinding project depended on careful analysis of visitor experiences, close collaboration with numerous museum departments and meticulous planning. Typographically, we worked with existing museum style guides, while also devising new visual languages as appropriate for the new buildings.

The donor-recognition signage for the three new galleries needed to be legible and eye-catching, without dominating the other written communication in the immediate environment, such as exhibition announcements. For these, AL_A’s concertinaed ceiling and research into an envelope punch machine that had been displayed at the Great Exhibition were both important cues. By laser-cutting the uppercase sans-serif font Plain into a white powder-coated aluminium rectangle the same colour as the wall beneath it, and hanging the resulting stencil a small distance from the wall, the shadow-cast creates an elegant, monochromatic, paper-like sign. Then, for the donor-recognition signs, we etched donor names into a stainless-steel mirror. Mounted flush on the museum’s existing 19th-century marble masonry, the sign is a contemporary yet thoughtful intervention in the distinguished heritage of the building.

  • Year: 2017
  • Client: Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Location: London
  • Category: Wayfinding

Photography: Thomas Adank