PG Architecture Unit 03: A Museum For Now

Unit brief

Our unit is looking at architecture from the point of view of experience – how we emotionally engage with spaces, and how we can design a paced experience for visitors that adds to the meaning of a museum collection. 

The projects this year stem from the work of our practice Nissen Richards Studio, and will draw on live and completed projects. We spend time thinking about how a journey shapes our imagination and how we engage with history and our place in society. We have our own methodologies for our work that help us create a nuanced and engaging experience, which we will draw on with students in our unit. 

We have been thinking about what museums mean in terms of our own practice over the last few months – particularly in lockdown during the pandemic. We have been asked by our clients to re-evaluate and think about a more relevant and mobile architecture that can respond to the shrinking audience, visitor numbers, budgets and appetite for shared public experiences. 

It is also a moment too when we are questioning objects and where these come from. We are interested in the invisible storytellers from history, who may not be present in collections, and how we can draw out parallel curatorial stories that are more relevant to today. 

The pandemic kick started several trends that were happening anyway – as people stayed at home and thought about the world around them. Ideas about a digital future, sustainability and de-colonialising museums. There is no going back now – we need to find a new and appropriate way in how to display collections, and actually fundamentally re-assess what a museum means. We will ask you to create a choreographed journey that begins outside the building, and runs through a series of spaces and beyond, that binds our society into the architecture. 

As a sub-theme for the year, we will also look at light. How we can use light as a lyrical tool to tell stories, and to create better and healthier spaces. Another theme will be accessibility and equality for all. We want our spaces to feel the same whatever your abilities or background. Equally sustainability as a central discussion point through the year – how in our shrinking world we have a responsibility to create spaces in a responsible way. To find the right approach we will encourage experimenting with materials. 

Our work this year will be in and around Hackney Marshes in London. We will ask you to design two proposals. Firstly a small building to house an exhibition. Secondly a new museum, around a collection of your choosing, complete with ancillary spaces, visitor entrance, café and shop.

Wood-clad tower and walkway with concrete balconies in landscape of treetops.


Architecture MA
Tutors Pippa Nissen
Marie-Lise Oulmont
Andrea Hickey
Kate Coghlan
Where Goulston Street
When Monday and Thursday

Architecture Postgraduate Studios


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