Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Designs on the Commonwealth Institute

I believe that Place Matters and the focus of this blog is about celebrating great places, what they offer and the experience of being there. In my book its the combination of offers that create unique and distinctive place brands. All too often these are far too rich and comprehensive to be captured by a mere logo or a tag line and you have to find the real story of the place to truly understand its brand.

With this in mind I have been delving in to the stories of the places that I work in and visit in the course of my work and looking for examples of ways in which places are being improved or new kinds of places are being created.

Last night my eye was caught by an article in the London Evening Standard about the planned move to the former Commonwealth Institute building of the Design Museum. I've liked the design and quirkiness of this building ever since I first saw it in 1973 when I came to work in central London. For a long time it was the place to hear and see what we now call "world music" and drama from the countries of the Commonwealth and it got me in to west African music and bands. But over time as other London venues grew in popularity and as the costs of occupying the building rose it fell in to disrepair and was eventually abandoned by the Institute, becoming a non-place in a way. 

Now that's all going to change with its reoccupation and repair by the Design Museum for which it will provide a larger and more central space to exhibit its great collection. The plans envisage quite a few changes to the original design which seem to me will be sympathetic and respectful of its Grade 2 listing status.

Once again this little part of Kensington will become a place of artistic integrity and entertainment.