Casson Mann are proud and delighted to announce that we will be working with the Natural History Museum in the transformation of Hintze Hall, aka Central Hall, with an infrastructure to take it through the next 25 years.
A passion for the building and respect for the Museum’s remit inspired a concept that celebrates its scientific legacy and unique architecture. “Our focus is to create a space that inspires wonder and curiosity and that works in concert with the proportion and scale and decorative rhythms of the building”, explains Roger Mann.
With a brief to introduce dramatic elements that create a dynamic tension between the Museum’s architecture, collection and scientific remit, Casson Mann’s scheme encompasses the redevelopment of Hintze (Central) Hall and Balconies. The Treasures Gallery, completed by Casson Mann in 2012, is related to this redevelopment project and the design language will tie all these spaces together into one coherent visual and intellectual whole.
The concept involves creating and choreographing new displays that maintain a dialogue with the stunning Romanesque architecture. Plinths and large scale vitrines will showcase objects from the Museum’s vast collection that represent the diversity of specimens in the natural world. Grouped according to narrative themes including Origins, Evolution and Biodiversity, and reflecting Waterhouse’s architectural division of the collection into extinct and extant, the aim is to encourage exploration, discovery and learning.
The emphasis on authentic objects sees the removal of the Diplodocus cast and the introduction of an adult blue whale skeleton spectacularly suspended centrally in the Hall, forming the focal point as visitors enter through the main doors.
The project encompasses all aspects of the visitor experience from engagement strategies to the fundamental infrastructure (including display cases, object plinths, seating, way-finding structures, information desks and services) and the re-presentation and interpretation of existing statues in the Hall, displays in the Wonder Bays and on the first and second floor Balconies, all presided over by the dramatically suspended blue whale above.
“It’s a huge privilege to be tasked with the Hintze Hall redevelopment.” says Roger Mann, co-founder and director of Casson Mann, “I’m a Londoner and this has been my favourite museum to visit since I can remember, and as an environmental designer I’m passionate about its beautiful architecture and very excited about this fantastic opportunity to create suitably stunning contemporary displays within its extraordinary interior”.
With 5 million visitors per year the Natural History Museum is one of London’s most iconic attractions and Hintze Hall is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016.