The London office of experiential designers MET Studio has been commissioned by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to create a series of major installations celebrating the IET’s vision, values, history and future directions, as part of the remodeling of its iconic headquarters in London’s Savoy Place.
Architects Pringle Richards Sharratt are designing the overall refurbishment – which started on site in August 2013 – aimed at restoring the historic building’s original splendour, improving the clarity of the vertical and horizontal circulation and remodeling the 460 seat lecture theatre (originally introduced by the IET in 1907) to extend the type and range of performance events that can be held at this central London site, which overlooks the river and is located within the Savoy Conservation Area. A second, more intimate lecture theatre of 180 seats is being introduced into a pre-existing lightwell at second floor level, alongside the new members’ lounge restaurant and research centre.
Early on in the process, the architects recommended to the IET that experiential design specialists should be included in the brief to ensure that the building expressed a strong identity in terms of content as well as form. MET Studio was one of several agencies invited to pitch for this commission before being appointed.
‘We knew immediately that we wanted to avoid a timeline-based or traditional museum style exhibition’ commented MET Studio Design Director Peter Karn on the company’s approach. ‘We therefore pitched a concept based on bold and artful installations which would create a narrative throughout the building and give a strong flavour of the IET, embodying exactly what is inspiring about the Institution and what it means to members and potential members to be a part of it.’
Ian Sharratt, Founder Director of Pringle Richards Sharratt commented: ‘PRS were impressed by the collaborative process that MET Studio followed in teasing out the IET’s priorities – and with the uplifting and stimulating proposals that have subsequently emerged.’
The IET was originally founded in 1871 and its vision is ‘to inspire, inform and influence the global engineering community’. Activities include the professional development of its members, education and scholarships; policy panels to advise government; the curation of an extensive library and archive and the publication of its own magazine and journals. The IET is active internationally, reflected in its membership in 127 countries around the world.
The installations will be located throughout the four-storey building, which is comprised of a reception and principal lecture theatre, together with a range of breakout and seminar rooms at ground floor level; the IET library, boardrooms and staff accommodation on the first floor; the members’ lounge, restaurant and research centre, together with the new lecture theatre on the second floor and a stunning new events space – overlooking the river – that stretches across the full width of the third floor.
‘Our idea is to create a series of storylines that fit with the layout and current and proposed usage of the building’ explained Peter Karn, ‘so that the stories help visitors to navigate and understand the building as they ascend through it. The IET also very much belongs to its members and the thoughts and opinions of members, presented in a dynamic, live and updatable way, are a core part of the concept, which will include large-scale sculptural, conceptual and digital interactive installations that work directly with the new scheme.’Location: Institution of Engineering and Technology, London, UK
Architect: Pringle Richards Sharratt
Designer: MET Studio
Date: September 2014