How do museums use their buildings as objects themselves to express their subjects and tell their stories?

Using the space of a gallery as an interpretative medium (instead of just as a container for showing things) is an exciting dimension of exhibition design, but what if the space available goes across multiple storeys? How can multiple floors be used to bring meaningful experiences to a subject? How is meaning ascribed by the vertical axis? In this project, we will find out.

We will do so by starting with the experience of the visitor. From this, not only the design but the theme itself should flow.

Owing to the Coronavirus, a landlord with a five floor office block in central London suddenly finds he has a problem on his hands – no one wants to use it anymore. All his tenants have abandoned their offices and are working from home. With London opening up again, the offices are still empty, but consumers are starting to look for new experiences in the half-empty city. The Landlord approaches you to create an exciting visitor attraction arranged across the five floors of the building. He is open to you radically adapting the building, cutting new holes between floors, creating entrances on upper levels, whatever you like. But it can’t be just a theme park. There is a financial grant for a new exhibition or museum you can access to fund the project, so it has to be of educational value and a collection of objects will need to be displayed. It needs to be on one unified theme that can work across all floors – more like an exhibition than a museum.

Katherine Skellon and Ben Tunstall