National Railway Museum

National Railway Museum launches competition for design of new Central Hall

Article: David Styles | Image: © Ravage Productions/Malcolm Reading Consultants

York’s National Railway Museum and Malcolm Reading Consultants have launched a two-stage competition to design the institution’s new Central Hall. This forms part of a wider project across the city, which is set to be one of the largest brownfield regenerations in Europe.

The museum is aiming to re-open in 2025, with a new expanded capacity meaning around 1.2 million people can visit each year – a rise of more than 400,000 compared to figures for 2018-19.

The York Central project, which the Central Hall is part of, is being touted as having the potential to boost the local economy by up to £1 billion.

The National Railway Museum has embarked on a renovation project which is set to conclude 50 years after it initially opened. The site, which is part of Science Museum Group, is benefiting from a city centre renovation initiative currently under way in York.

The overarching York Central project will include re-routing a major road that currently bisects the museum’s site. Previously, this has always meant the main Great Hall and Station Hall galleries have been separated.

The new Central Hall, which is anticipated to be around 4,500m² and cost £16.5 million to build, is set to bridge this previously lost space between the exhibition halls and the museum site as a whole. The construction will include reception spaces and a 1,000m² gallery, but any other details are dependent on the design chosen for its construction.

How the competition works

  • Integrated design teams must submit Expressions of Interest by 2pm on Wednesday 16th October
  • Stage two honorarium of £30,000 will be awarded to a minimum of five shortlisted teams to fund design concepts
  • To maximise public engagement, National Railway Museum will hold an exhibition of the shortlisted designs in February 2020
  • The successful bidder is expected to be announced the following month
  • The construction is set to be completed shortly before the museum re-opens in 2025

Judith McNicol, director of the National Railway Museum, said it was “hard to over-state the importance of the Central Hall to our future,” adding that the building will “bring unity to our site, connecting historic buildings, and providing a stunning new welcome to our museum for audiences from around the world”.

The Central Hall, she added, “will be at the heart of our mission to make a telling contribution to the contemporary rail renaissance. It will be a place where we can showcase the cutting-edge innovations of today alongside the engineering triumphs of the past.”

The organisers will begin to assess Expressions of Interest next month © Malcolm Reading Consultants

The National Railway Museum Central Hall Design Competition is seeking submissions from both national and international integrated design teams. Design talent, creative flair, sensitivity to heritage, and an emphasis on sustainability are cited by the organisation as crucial considerations when selecting a winner. Shortlisted teams may also be able to propose some enhancements to the adjoining museum buildings.