Video: Archiboo | What Are Modern Museums Really For?

Published on: 27-05-2016

At the recent Archiboo event, David Bickle, the Design Director for the V&A, discussed the future of museums in a fast paced world, and why the globally renowned museum wants to build a new 18,000 sqm museum for the “digital age’ in east London.

V&A - Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
V&A - Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

The V&A is the world’s largest museum of art and design with an enviable reputation for commissioning leading architects and designers to work on both temporary exhibitions and permanent galleries.

The V&A East will be part of a whole new cultural quarter on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – it will be the largest museum to be constructed in the last century and will be at the forefront of the digital realm. This vast space will be comprised of laboratories, a research and learning centre, art spaces and studios. There will be vigorous and varied creative industry programmes and this ambitious scheme is set to create a whole new model for how cultural and educational organisations can work in the future.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park - V&A
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – V&A

The £180 million project however, has stirred up some controversy in how it will change East London’s bohemian cultural hub, where creative start-ups usually have the space and freedom to work independently. Many local Architectural practices have already had their studio spaces taken away as the larger parts of regeneration come into fruition. Furthermore, the debates that followed the talk addressed the questions regarding the necessity another V&A and whether or not this is even a good use of public spending.

David’s talk focused on why museums need to respond to external factors, such as social media and world events, whilst also becoming more visitor focused.

On a positive note, the project is expected to deliver 3,000 jobs and 1.5 million additional visitors to the Park with an anticipated completion date of 2020/21. I feel that by enriching future generations’ learning and maintaining the relevance of Design is an important part of shaping futures.

Whether you are for or against the project, the V&A faces one of the biggest challenges in its 162-year history and I am sure that this talk is just the beginning of a long debate surrounding this new project for the V&A.


Adrem are supporters of Archiboo’s mission to help architects become more creative in how they run and grow their practices through new thinking and new connections.

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Written by: Beth Harries