New Members’ Room at the V&A by Carmody Groarke


Rory Gardiner

Architect Carmody Groarke has completed its competition-winning new Members’ Room at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Set within a top-lit, top-floor gallery in the grade-1-listed 1909 Aston Webb wing, the luxurious but welcoming room will host Members for hospitality events and refreshment breaks on museum visits.

Carmody Groarke was concerned to treat the new space as an extension or ‘natural continuum’ of the existing fabric, and the works include the restoration and retention of details as well as ‘appropriate reinvented architectural features’ including lighting and furniture. A new fluted-glass luminaire comprising gently-glowing clusters reinterprets original gallery light fittings.


The original floor level has been raised by almost half a metre to provide views from the existing windows to The Sackler Courtyard overlooking The Sainsbury Gallery, part of the newly unveiled V&A Exhibition Road Quarter, which also comprises The Blavatnik Hall.

Large mirrors “amplify the energy and activity within the room, creating new perspectives from inside-to-outside, and to other levels within the museum via a lightwell which connects the existing galleries”, says the architect.

Bespoke furniture creates smaller spaces within the grand open-plan room. Pieces designed by the London-based studio include decorative marble tables paired with subtly-coloured leather fixed-seating. These “form a spatial counterpoint to the more light-weight, loose furniture and create a mixture of formal and informal areas within the overall room”, says Carmody Groarke.


The centrepiece of the room is a monolithic terrazzo bar – a material reference to the white marble entrance staircase – whose sculptural, sectional form is intended to rhyme with the mouldings of the ceiling above.

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