The Science Museum’s newest gallery, ‘Information Age: Six Networks That Changed Our World’, designed by Universal Design Studio, explores the impact of communication technologies throughout 2,500 sq m of new exhibition space. A new raised elliptical walkway, known as the ‘Whispering Gallery’, designed by structural engineers Heyne Tillett Steel, surrounds the double height space which is enjoyed by a global audience while maintaining regular and sustained support from its local community. It is a well-loved community hub and features regularly in the routines of visitors; from local schools attending guided tours, families participating in workshops and adults pursuing lifelong learning.
For the Regional Award the judges looked for: 'Benefit to the community', 'Sustainability' and 'Value', in addition to the 'Excellent Structural Engineering' that must underpin every award. All 4 qualities are evident in the elliptical walkway that brings a new dimension to the viewing of this gallery. The clean lines do not detect from the exhibits, the limited opportunities for support have been cleverly exploited by the chosen structural form and visitors benefit from easier circulation and improved viewing. The cost-effective steel structure was erected with minimum disruption to Museum activity and should provide a maintenance free facility for many decades. As with all the best solutions, the 'Whispering Gallery' forms a natural feature with a real sense of belonging