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 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 master plan established a strong focus on the 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.
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 area around this while improving visitors’ understanding and orientation within the hangar and opening up views 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 the 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.
Rebecca Dalley, Centenary Programme Manager, RAF Museum
- RAF Museum
- Royal Air Force Museum
- June 2018
- London, UK
- £23 Million
- Alan DempseyRowan MorriceKeti CarapuliKwon JungMatt HepburnShimin Cao
- Alan Williams
- Landscape Architect: Agence Ter Project Management & Cost Consultant: Ridge Structural Engineer: Techniker Services Engineer: E+M Technica Lighting: DHA Design Exhibition Design: Kossmann De Jong & Met Studio