In 2004 the RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections relocated from 21 Portman Square and 66 Portland Place in London to the V&A. Partly funded by an award from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Gareth Hoskins Architects were employed to design the new Architecture Gallery at the front of the museum; and the architects Wright & Wright were appointed to design the new offices and study rooms in the Henry Cole Wing.
The study rooms sit within the existing 19th century V&A Prints and Drawings Room. These two sketches are part of Wright & Wright's competition entry, where they planned to insert a large mezzanine floor to house the RIBA collections. This scheme was abandoned in 2001 for a more economical and less intrusive one.
The sketches, which are executed using the pointillist technique, are not only quite beautiful but are rather amusing for the characters they include, all of whom play a part in the V&A and RIBA’s history and collections. Unsurprisingly Prince Albert and Queen Victoria are shown in the foreground, however more surprisingly the queen is viewing the V&A's Japanese erotica collection! Behind them sit Oscar Wilde and William Morris, and above them in the alcoves are items from the collections.
The second sketch depicts the mezzanine storey itself, along with a model of the scheme. In the background Henry Cole sits talking to Francis Fowke, and just before them sits George Grey Wornum, architect of the RIBA's headquarters at 66 Portland Place.
Wright & Wright Architects
Wright & Wright Architects is a Scottish firm founded in 1994 by husband and wife team Sandy (1949- ) and Clare Wright (1955- ). Their other projects include:
Refurbishment work at the National Gallery, London
Hull Truck Theatre, Hull (for which they have won several awards)
Architectural Association School; in July 2010 they were appointed to draw up the master plan for the AA’s newly expanded campus in Bedford Square, London