V&A East Museum – topping-out

V&A East Museum – topping-out

I’m excited to share that our V&A East Museum building, conceived by O’Donnell + Toumey, is ‘topping out’. The building now stands at its full height at 42.5m in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with its monumental steel frame complete. This is a major milestone for the V&A East project, and I’d like to thank the huge team responsible for getting us this far – from the Olympic legacy vision and the creation of V&A East to O’Donnell Tuomey’s outstanding architecture, London Legacy Development Corporation’s (LLDC) stewardship and MACE’s execution. Well done all.

Building of V&A East Museum in progress - at its full height.
V&A East Museum tops out in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, December 2021. View from Tessa Jowell Boulevard © Victoria and Albert Museum

O’Donnell + Tuomey’s design was inspired by the Japanese concept of ‘Ma’, or ‘the space between’, and Nick Veasey’s Xray of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s 1950s silk taffeta dress. The experience of exploring the structure is already apparent as you climb the stairs between the complex steel-frame, constructed by Bourne Steel, which will hold the pre-cast concrete façade panels, and the floor plates of the public spaces and galleries. The frame itself is made up of 2,051 pieces and has required immense expertise from both our engineers, Buro Happold, MACE and Bourne Steel to construct.

Render of the finished V&A East Museum
External render view of the new V&A East Museum at Stratford Waterfront, designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey. © O’Donnell + Tuomey / Ninety90, 2018

From the exterior, the design of the concrete façade responds to the requirements of our visitors and objects, and the surface plays with scored lines and profiled peaks and troughs, responding to the geometry of the steel frame. The casts for the 425 pieces were made by Techcrete at their factory in North Lincolnshire, using an aggregate mix which looks closer to the yellow tones of Portland Stone than grey of Brutalist 1970s concrete. The sharpness of each panel and attention to detail from Techcrete’s team is incredible. The panels are beginning to be hoisted into place, section by section, from the ground up, and the building’s final form will be evident next year.

Detail of the building showing pre-cast concrete facade
Installation of pre-cast concrete facade on V&A East Museum, December 2021 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Once the pre-cast panels are in place, the next step is to make the building watertight, with windows produced by Schneider at their factory near Dresden. This will enable the building services to be installed, including power, water and environmental controls, whilst the circulation and back of house spaces are fitted-out. MACE and LLDC will then hand the building over to the V&A for us to complete the construction fit-out, which includes the finishes of the floors, walls and ceilings, and install the galleries, shop and café.

2022 will be an exciting year – where we will continue to commission world-class architects and designers, and procure contractors for both V&A East sites under construction in the Olympic park. We will be running a design competition next year to appoint a team for the galleries and will release a tender for a main contractor for the fit-out of front of house spaces, before we open to the public in 2025.