South Kensington is the beating heart of London’s design. Rich in history, it has been a magnet for lovers of design for more than a century since the staging of the Great Exhibition in 1851, just north of the area in Hyde Park. We take a look at the area’s creative history – and a look ahead to how South Ken is framing its future …
In the 19th century, Prince Albert was a driving force behind the Great Exhibition. He advised the Royal Commission that profits from the event be used to create a lasting legacy. His drive and influence led London’s media and society to name the area ‘Albertropolis’.
Albertropolis developed into Europe’s most successful hub for design, learning and discovery. Exhibition Road – and the roads and streets developed around it – became the focus for institutions of world renown. Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum together with Imperial College London, the Royal College of Music, Royal College of Art, Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Institute of Navigation all developed to be a part of this extraordinary neighbourhood. The V&A, the Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial are today’s most prominent reminders of Prince Albert’s legacy.
Over more recent years, South Ken – and Brompton Road – have become synonymous with leading design. The development of the Brompton Design District has been a key driver and, working with numerous partners and stakeholders across the area. Today, the spirit of Albertropolis continues with exciting new projects at the area’s museums as well as a growing number of design businesses, clustering to making South Ken their London home. Internationally known brands including Cassina, Divertimenti, Kartell, Smallbone of Devizes and Skandium sit alongside independent businesses such as Matthew Cambery, Casson Conder, Debonnaire Von Bismark, The Flower Bar & School, ELA London, Purdy Hicks, NYLA and The Wedding Club … all with design and creativity at their core.
Cromwell Place – situated in the heart of South Kensington – is currently in development. Scheduled to open in the autumn of 2019, it offers a groundbreaking solution for galleries and art professionals seeking a presence in central London.
Five Grade II listed buildings are being combined to provide a variety of well proportioned exhibition spaces, viewing rooms, permanent offices, hot desking, art storage as well as technical, logistical and marketing support. It is a unique project.
Membership is open to UK and international galleries, art dealers, advisers and curators. Cromwell Place aims to establish a thriving collaborative atmosphere, enhancing the scope and ambition of exhibitions and building a reputation for the quality and professionalism of its Members.
The project will have sixteen exhibition rooms varying in size from 600 to 2300 sq ft (56 to 214 m2) – each equipped with museum-grade lighting systems, individual security and communications. There will be technicians on site to provide assistance with installation, fabrication, packing, photography and shipping. For resident members, Cromwell Place 25 private office spaces.
In addition, there will be five viewing rooms – available for morning, day and evening viewings. The property has a stunning Grade II listed Club Room providing an elegant venue for meetings and receptions. It will also provide temporary hot desk spaces and meeting rooms (for daily or weekly use) and a fully staffed and secure art storage facility.
If you are interested in Membership, please contact their Galleries Director, May Calil, via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Take time out to explore ‘Albertropolis’ (pictured below) the next time you are in the area – from the history that gave it its name to the changes being made that uphold Albert’s legacy and bring new, creative life to South Kensington.
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