Royal Air Force Museum

RAF Museum

Celebrating the RAF Centenary in 2018, this project created new exhibition and visitor facilities, alongside landscaping that enhances visitor understanding of the museum's heritage, and the site's connections to surrounding communities.

Awards

2019 Civic Trust Awards Regional Finalist
2019 Museum & Heritage Awards: Permanent Exhibition of the Year Shortlisted
2019 Museum & Heritage Awards: Partnership of the Year, Highly Commended

Located on the edge of what was once the London Aerodrome and then RAF Hendon, the 8-hectare site boasts close ties with aviation history.  Despite that rich heritage, the RAF Museum needed to reconnect with its local community and the wider public as traditional audiences shrink, and as major new housing developments in the surrounding area become home to a younger, more diverse population.

An ambition to create a high quality public realm informed our approach to the brief and transformation of the site as a whole.

Designed in collaboration with Landscape Architects Agence Ter, the masterplan established a strong focus on landscape by relocating the car park to the edge of the site.  Creating a new green space at the heart of the museum evokes the site’s airfield history and enhances the experience of visitors and the local community.

A circular ‘taxiway’ connects all exhibition spaces and facilities, encouraging visitors to explore independently and in their own time.  A strong emphasis is placed on accessibility, with flat, clearly defined pathways making navigation simple and intuitive.

 

Nestled amongst the green space, our largest architectural intervention is the refurbishment of a large-span, single roof Hangar from the 1970s, that has been repurposed as the museum’s new entrance, main galleries and visitor centre.

While the aluminium clad exterior retains its simple industrial appearance, a new entrance has been introduced as a 40-metre-long cantilevered roof canopy. Offering shelter to visiting crowds and a welcome and orientation point for all users, the aerofoil-like roof hints at the drama within.

"Through Nex’s sensitive and ambitious approach, we have been able to deliver our vision for a world-class museum for all. The new masterplan and two imaginatively transformed buildings showcase this area’s proud aviation history while opening up our site to reconnect with our local community"

Maggie Appleton MBE, Chief Executive Officer, RAF Museum

The refurbished hangar contains new exhibition and event spaces – and includes a huge Sunderland flying boat that was too fragile to move during construction. We reconfigured the space around this, while focusing on improving visitors’ understanding and orientation within the hangar and opening up views out across the site.

Within the hangar, a new visitor pavilion contains a range of functions: a shop, café and WCs on the ground floor, with a members’ room and flexible spaces for events and meetings above.  The central positioning of pavilion creates a natural circulation route around the perimeter, and forms a vibrant red backdrop to the hangar’s historic collection of airframes and displays.

"Nex worked with us as both Client Advisors and Architects - playing an instrumental role in two successful HLF funding applications. Challenging us in the potential of our indoor space, the final scheme includes two imaginatively restored and transformed buildings that form the centrepiece of our site. "

Rebecca Dalley, Centenary Programme Manager, RAF Museum

Name:
RAF Museum
Client:
Royal Air Force Museum
Date:
June 2018
Location:
London, UK
Status:
Complete
Budget:
£23 Million
Team:
Alan DempseyRowan MorriceAyo AkinolaKeti CarapuliKwon JungMatt HepburnShimin Cao
Photography:
Alan Williams
Collaborators:
Landscape Architecture — Agence Ter Project Management + Cost — Ridge Structural Engineering — Techniker Services Engineering — E+M Technica Lighting — DHA Design Exhibition Design — Kossmann De Jong + Met Studio