Design Museum Pavilion

Photo: Luke Hayes

Commissioned as part of the annual Designers in Residence program, this pavilion was a temporary structure in the grounds of the new Design Museum in Kensington. Responding to the theme ‘Open’, the project explored the idea of the building site as a productive space for learning, and construction as a social event. Assembled with a group of students from a range of disciplines at the Royal College of Art as part of a week-long ‘Co-Construction’ workshop, the pavilion acted a framework for exchange, engagement and collaboration. Alongside hands-on making, the students documented the process, producing a film and a book which was displayed as part of an exhibition inside the Museum.

The design of the pavilion responded to the architectural language of the new Design Museum, specifically the double-curved form of the hyperbolic paraboloid roof. Created from a series of parallel timber ribs, it demonstrated the way in which a curve can be achieved through entirely straight elements. The pavilion allowed visitors to experience this elegant structural system on a smaller scale and more intimate way than is possible in the Museum.

Taking its cue from the original concept for the former Commonwealth Institute building, that of a ‘tent in the park’, the pavilion is a light-weight structure framing views of the surrounding landscape. Located in the gardens around the museum, the pavilion spanned a group of pre-existing benches, providing a sheltered space for gathering. The timber structure was clad in lapped fibreglass shingles, which glowed when lit in the evenings, allowing the pavilion to act like a lantern within the landscape.

The structure was dismantled after 6 months, and the timber was salvaged to be used both in an installation commissioned by the UK Green Building Council and also for the timber frame of a new garden meeting room for Feidlen Fowles Architects.

“The whole education process should teach the love of materials, the love of working by hand. Then gradually they become ideal students: half a philosopher and half a craftsman. If they put these two parts together, they will be very good architects.”
– Wang Shu, in conversation with Clementine Blakemore (July, 2016)


  • Curator: Margaret Cubbage
  • Carpenter: Jan Ciechanowicz
  • Structural Engineers: Peter Laidler, Harriet Sanderson & Max Clayton
  • RCA Students:
  • David Colombini
  • Grace Crannis
  • Joel Cunningham
  • Izabela Anna Rzeczkowska-Moren
  • Lewis Hornby
  • Marta Velasco Velasco
  • Michael Piderit
  • Rebecca Sutherland
  • Shankho Chaudhuri
  • Thea Hallak
  • Yifei Gong
  • Youmee Hwang

Thanks to

  • Del Bond
  • Christopher Evans
  • Axel Feldmann
  • Edmund Fowles
  • Emily Fribbance
  • Rama Gheerawo
  • Marco Ugolini
  • Louise Underhill

Photo credits: Luke Hayes, Clementine Blakemore, and RCA Students