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Science Museum Smith Centre

We have recently completed a new £3.5m supporters centre for the Science Museum, created from a former Royal Mail sorting office and yard behind the main concourse of the museum. The Smith Centre has been conceived as a generous, inviting 'salon' for socialising, events, lectures and dinners. The practice restored and revived the original materials and form of the Sorting Office, and created an elegant, richly coloured sequence of rooms including a number of smaller meeting rooms and a new boardroom for the Museum, leading to a courtyard created from the delivery yard, which is partly sheltered by the original Victorian glazed roof.

We have complemented the palette of found materials - glazed brick, parquet, steel and timber carefully restored - with new elements that are simple but finely detailed, to create a salon atmosphere that will be complemented by displays of unusual objects from the Museum's collections - including a large-scale oil painting, a dramatic ship model, a spacesuit and a rocket - all helping to show the breadth of the Museum's heritage. This major project, won in competition, is now open, along with our recently completed refurbishment of the Groups Entrance for the Museum.

The Science Museum found the perfect partner in HAT Projects to transform and integrate this elegant early 20th-century sorting office into the working life of the museum. The simplicity of the space today belies the complexity of the design, and the enormous thought and effort the architects have put into the details such as the acoustics, thermal efficiency, daylighting, thresholds, materials and finishes.

Karen Livingstone, Director of Masterplan & Estate, Science Museum Group

HAT Projects also created the interior design of the Smith Centre, adding bespoke designed furniture to a range of classic pieces from the 1930s to the present day. The interior design complements the rich material palette of the base build with dashes of acid colour and creates a variety of settings for visitors to work, meet and converse.

"The route to this spectacular space is visually simple and intuitive but that is only thanks to months of patient design development by the architects, HAT Projects, and their team." Elizabeth Hopkirk, Building Design.

A technical study of the project has been featured in Building Design magazine, available to view here.

Photography: Philip Vile