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Tuesday, November 17, 1998 Published at 18:00 GMT


Green light for V & A spiral extension

Mixing the new and the old

Plans to build a modern spiral extension to London's Victoria and Albert Museum have been given the go-ahead.

Proposals for the new design were backed by Kensington and Chelsea councillors despite planning officers' recommendations to reject them.

The V&A wants to sandwich the space-age extension, known as The Spiral - and described by one critic as looking like "a spiral of crumpled boxes" - between its existing Victorian galleries in South Kensington, south-west London.

Opposed by locals

The Spiral was designed by US architect Daniel Libeskind as part of a 75m project to provide more gallery space at the museum.

Speaking to BBC television from Berlin where he has just finished an extension to the Berlin Museum, Libeskind said: "I think it's going to be a unique building in the world. I don't think it will be shocking. I think people will love it."

The scheme had been vigorously opposed by many local residents, with Carol Seymour-Newton, secretary of the Knightsbridge Association, describing it as the "wrong development in the wrong place".

Support of Royal Fine Arts Commission

But it won the backing of English Heritage chairman Sir Jocelyn Stevens, who earlier this month said: "It would be a tragedy and a wasted opportunity if it is turned down."

The Royal Fine Arts Commission also supported the new building.

The Libeskind proposal, which won an architectural competition, was unveiled in May 1996.

The project was turned down for National Lottery funding by the Millennium Commission, and is now dependent on private support.

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