Design Museum Pavilion

Photo: Luke Hayes
Photo: Luke Hayes
Photo: Luke Hayes

Commissioned as part of the annual Designers in Residence program, a temporary Pavilion has been completed in the grounds of the new Design Museum. The project, which responded to the theme ‘Open’, explored the idea of the building site as a productive space for learning, and construction as a social event. Assembled with a group of students from a range of disciplines at the Royal College of Art as part of a week-long ‘Co-Construction’ workshop, the pavilion can be interpreted as a framework for exchange, engagement and collaboration. Alongside hands-on making, the students documented the process, producing a film and a book which will be displayed as part of the Designers In Residence exhibition inside the Museum.

The design of the pavilion responds to the architectural language of the new Design Museum, specifically the double-curved form of the hyperbolic paraboloid roof. Created from a series of parallel timber ribs, it demonstrates the way in which a curve can be achieved through entirely straight elements. The pavilion allows visitors to experience this elegant structural system on a smaller scale and more intimate way than is possible in the Museum.

Taking its cue from the original concept for the former Commonwealth Institute building, that of a ‘tent in the park’, the pavilion is a light-weight structure framing views of the surrounding landscape. Located in the gardens within the Design Museum grounds, the pavilion spans a group of pre-existing benches, providing a sheltered space for gathering. The timber structure is clad in lapped fibreglass shingles, which glow when lit in the evenings, allowing the pavilion to act like a lantern within the landscape.

“The whole education process should teach the love of materials, the love of working by hand. Then gradually they become ideal students: half a philosopher and half a craftsman. If they put these two parts together, they will be very good architects.”
– Wang Shu, in conversation with Clementine Blakemore (July, 2016)


  • Curator: Margaret Cubbage
  • Carpenter: Jan Ciechanowicz
  • Structural Engineers: Peter Laidler, Harriet Sanderson & Max Clayton
  • RCA Students:
  • David Colombini
  • Grace Crannis
  • Joel Cunningham
  • Izabela Anna Rzeczkowska-Moren
  • Lewis Hornby
  • Marta Velasco Velasco
  • Michael Piderit
  • Rebecca Sutherland
  • Shankho Chaudhuri
  • Thea Hallak
  • Yifei Gong
  • Youmee Hwang

Thanks to

  • Del Bond
  • Christopher Evans
  • Axel Feldmann
  • Edmund Fowles
  • Emily Fribbance
  • Rama Gheerawo
  • Marco Ugolini
  • Louise Underhill

Photo credits: Luke Hayes, Clementine Blakemore, and RCA Students