Reece Oliver’s futurist approach to museum design promotes a greater understanding, knowledge and appreciation of the role of material as part of today’s society.
Designed by: Reece Oliver
Status: Concept

The stereotypical museum experience of today involves walking around rooms upon rooms of piled up artefacts stuck behind glass casing. This set-up causes people to feel overwhelmed due to the masses of information crammed in to these displays, where the sense of user engagement with the object itself is lost. When displayed in this way, the specialist craft and detailed material qualities of such artefacts cannot be fully appreciated.
‘The museum of unnatural history’ sets out as a critique to the modern method of museology, acting as a typological anomaly concerned with exhibiting and the fostering of a new understanding of materiality. As opposed to the traditionally used method of chronological formatting, this museum categorises its artefacts in reference to their material specification; namely metals, ceramics, and glass.

The original Cuming Museum was situated across the 1st floor of the Grade-II listed Walworth Town Hall, where In March 2013 a fire broke out during maintenance works in the roof. This fire left large areas of the building completely destroyed, forcing the museum into closure – it has not been relocated since.
By analysing a series of fire damage reports, the remnant un-damaged parts of the existing building were used to create a subtending and historically contextual enclosure around the proposed insertion; a 14-metre high rectangular container which inside features three permanent exhibition spaces, each uniquely designed in correspondence to the type of material being exhibited.

The area between the facade of the historic existing building and the new internal museum space is a key moment of passing. In this space, the line between new and old becomes blurred, as the occupant travels from a place in history to the present; a curious thing happens to mean here, as the person’s place within the building becomes ambiguous. This image represents the atmosphere of this threshold space, showing how a lattice of modern-day structures unravel as this boundary is crossed.

The museum provides immersive experiences of each material, playing on the synthesis and reactions of light and obscuration as a gesture towards changing people’s perception of what materiality truly is. The three distinct volumes within the open museum space are intersected at different levels by a series of overlapping walkways and staircases, to create a dynamic and user-interactive space where there is no direct flow of circulation. This way, the openness and adaptability of the museum become part of the exhibition itself, furthering the capacities for experiential diversity throughout.

to promote knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the role of material as part of today’s society.

Reece Oliver is a recent graduate from Newcastle University, now practicing as a Part I architectural assistant at Sprunt Ltd in London.
Specialising in sculpture during his time spent at art college, Reece has always been interested in studying the role of material as a part of today’s society, writing a thesis on the utopian ideology of a circular building economy, where he discusses the potential of using waste as a resource for new building materials.
His designs focus on enagaging with the social histories and spatial experiences which define a particular place, seeking out utopian fragments within the present day to develop design proposals that celebrate the possible.