The Parabola

A tour around the future home of London's Design Museum

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Set back from the lower end of Kensington High Street behind its 52 flagpoles, the old Commonwealth Building has been a familiar landmark for west Londoners since its completion in 1962 when it was widely considered one of London’s most important modern buildings.

Designed by Sir Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners, its most striking feature is its hyperbolic paraboloid copper roof, which rises, tent-like, above the trees between the building and Holland Park behind.

From 1962 to 2000, the building housed a permanent exhibition about the nations of the Commonwealth, as well as an important library of Commonwealth literature, and hosted regular cultural events. From 2000-2001 the building underwent comprehensive repairs, after which it was permanently closed to the public with a view to the site behind redeveloped.

In 2009, following proposals to demolish the building (The Parabola is currently Grade II listed), plans for redevelopment of the site, including the construction of residential buildings were accepted for Rem Koolhaas’ practice OMA. In July it was announced that British architect John Pawson had been commissioned to convert the Exhibition Hall to provide a new home for London’s Design Museum

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