Based in the original Wellcome Building on Euston Road, London, UK, Wellcome Collection is the legacy of Sir Henry Wellcome, a British-American pharmaceutical entrepreneur whose passion for medicine led him to collect more than a million medical related objects before his death in 1936. Wellcome Collection, described as the free visitor destination for the incurably curious, explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future.
Following the completion of Wellcome Trust’s new headquarters building in 2004, the adjoining original Wellcome Building was refurbished to accommodate part of Sir Henry’s collection and a lively programme of events and exhibitions, opening to the public in 2007. Since then, its popularity has far exceeded expectations, with visitor numbers up to five times the anticipated 100,000 each year. The phenomenal success of Wellcome Collection has driven the need for further refurbishment, aimed at accommodating growing visitor numbers and improving the visitor experience.
Buro Happold was initially approached to provide fire engineering services, based on the Wellcome Trust’s relationship with Buro Happold’s Andy Passingham, global director for fire engineering, which developed during the building’s previous refurbishment, and the building of the new HQ and the Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK. The appointment subsequently expanded to the delivery of an integrated service combining fire engineering, people-flow modelling and acoustics. These disciplines are essential to a scheme such as this, where the efficient and safe movement of people around the building is at the core of the design, and the potential combination of quiet library spaces and public events needs careful acoustic consideration.
When completed the building will contain a variety of spaces, including exhibition galleries, event spaces, the Wellcome Library, a café and restaurant, a bookshop and conference facilities.