Victoria And Albert Museum

Henry Cole Wing

Photograph from 1871 of the Henry Cole Wing with gardens in foreground

Photographer: York & Son, c.1871
Architects: Lieutenant-Colonel H.Y.D. Scott, with J. Gamble and J.W. Wild, 1867-71
Copyright: Reproduced by permission of English Heritage. NMR


Now known as the Henry Cole Wing of the V&A, this building has had many different names since it was completed in 1871, including: the Science Schools, Royal College of Science, and Huxley Building. It was originally built as the School of Naval Architecture to contain laboratories and teaching rooms.

The initial plans for the building were made by Francis Fowke, however he died before work began. Lieutenant-Colonel H.Y.D. Scott took over the project and completed the building with the assistance of James Gamble and J.W. Wild.

Exterior design

As the first building of the Department of Science and Art to have a prominent position on Exhibition Road a showy front was required for the building. Scott designed an impressive seven-bay elevation with one-bay projections at either end, topped with a pediment. Red brick and terracotta decoration were used, following the style evolved by Cole, Fowke and Sykes at the South Kensington Museum.

An elaborate decorative scheme was devised, based on Sykes' decoration of the museum’s Lecture Theatre building. The terracotta columns on the ground floor exterior are identical to those on the Lecture Theatre front. On the top floor of the building are more ornate columns, producing an open arcaded balcony or loggia.

Although the exterior gives an ordered impression of only four storeys, internally the building is much more complicated, with several split levels leading of a large, imposing staircase.

Recent redevelopment

In 1974 the building was converted to house the Department of Prints, Drawings & Photographs of the V&A and renamed the Henry Cole Building. A new structure was built to link it to the museum and to create a new entrance on Exhibition Road.