National Railway Museum launches competition to design ‘spectacular’ £16.5m Central Hall

Ready to be transformed… the National Railway Museum site. Photograph: Duncan Lomax / Ravage Productions

Could you design a spectacular, cutting-edge building that will inspire future generations?

Well hit the drawing board, because the National Railway Museum in York has launched a competition to find the architect who will design its new £16.5m Central Hall.

The building will showcase the future of rail engineering and to link the museum site for the first time.


Part of the National Railway Museum’s £55m, Vision 2025 masterplan – first revealed by YorkMix in January 2018 – the 4,500 sqm Central Hall will connect the existing Great Hall and Station Hall buildings and provide additional capacity to welcome up to 1.2m visitors annually.

The museum is already one of the most visited museums in the North of England welcoming 782,000 visitors in 2018-19 and the development will significantly expand available gallery space and improve accessibility.

Open in 2025

One early impression of a reimagined National Railway Museum. Image: Wilkinson Eyre
As well as reception spaces, the Central Hall will include a spectacular 1,000 sqm gallery which will house future acquisitions and innovative technology with a focus on the modern rail industry.

The building will be complete and open to the public in 2025 – 50 years after the museum first opened and 200 years since the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

Director of the National Railway Museum Judith McNicol said:

  • It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Central Hall to our future.

    It will unify our site, sensitively connecting historic railway buildings and providing a stunning new welcome to our visitors.

    It will be a place where we can showcase the cutting-edge innovations of today alongside the engineering triumphs of the past; a place where we can inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists, inventors and problem solvers.

The Vision 2025 masterplan comprises eight projects which will transform the National Railway Museum into a world class visitor attraction. These include the Central Hall, extensive landscaping of South Yard and redisplaying the museum’s famous Great Hall.

The competition

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The competition is being run in association with architectural competition specialists Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC).

After initial expressions of interest, at least five shortlisted teams will move on to stage two, where they will produce design concepts for the new building.

They will also be able to propose enhancements to some of the fabric, infrastructure and organisation of the existing adjoining buildings which may be delivered by the appointed project team.

As part of a public engagement process, the National Railway Museum will hold an exhibition of designs in February 2020. The winner is expected to be announced in March 2020.

The competition is open to international integrated design teams that include architects, structural, civil and services engineers. The first stage deadline is 16 October 2019.

For more details visit the competition website.