Welcoming over 1.5 million visitors a year, the NMM is the world’s largest maritime museum. For the Samy Ofer Wing—the biggest development in the Museum’s 74 year history—we were given a remit to add a sense of refinement and a unique identity to the interiors.
Our design of the visitor facilities includes the main reception, interactive gallery, reading room, cafe, brasserie and the new museum shop. In particular, the dining spaces feature attractive terraces with views over Greenwich Park, while overall the new facilities greatly improve visitor orientation and flow throughout the site.
The base build design offered a functional building but without any distinctive interior design that would provide exciting spaces that draw the visitor deeper in to the museum’s extensive collections. Part of our strategy was to enhance and reveal the key architectural features and add a sense of the ‘maritime’.
This involved highlighting a central strip within the lobby space with high-quality concrete on the floor, feature-wall and ceiling and installing bespoke rippling metal panels that evoke waves. In addition, we made a significant intervention to resolve issues of visitor flow through the space by repositioning the main entrance and reducing the size of the central atrium void.
1. Studies for the external courtyard area identified strategies for signage, catering and large-scale object display.
2. Softroom repositioned the entrance and re-configured the weather lobby to resolve issues of visitor flow.
3. Studies on queuing scenarios led to an optimisation of the position and layout of the reception area.
4. Softroom reduced the size of the central void in the atrium to create more circulation space.
5. Studies identified the optimal arrangement for queuing for the basement Special Exhibitions Gallery.
6. Softroom re-configured the cloakroom to allow for better service to be provided at peak times.
7. Main circulation routes are kept deliberately free of obstructions.
8. Connections to the main spaces of the Museum were studied to select the best options in terms of intuitive way finding.
9. The retail facilities were planned to take advantage of the maximum footfall of visitors between the main areas of the museum and the Sammy Ofer Wing.
10. The cafe was re-configured and enlarged to exploit the adjacency to Greenwich Park.