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The Cutty Sark’s Bold Stand-In

The Cutty Sark Pavilion in London was designed to grab attention while the big museum underwent repairs.

The Cutty Sark

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The Cutty Sark has been famous for over fifty years, ever since the 19th-century merchant clipper was transformed into a floating maritime museum. But it was scheduled for for some badly needed restoration. How could the company that runs the museum scrape by, with its main (and only) attraction out for years?

So they asked Youmeheshe Architects, working with Grimshaw, to design a pavilion that would house temporary exhibits, video feeds of the restoration, and models of the ship. The museum itself would have to evoke the ship.

They delivered. The pavilion, which took only six months to build, uses a system of canvas sheets and wooden beams–just like the Cutty Sark’s very own sails and masts. Alastair Townsend, who led the project for Youmeheshe Architects before starting his own outfit, Bakoko, just recently spoke about hte project at Pecha Kucha in Tokyo:



Strangely, the Cutty Sark actually burned just when the pavilion was completed. But in a way, they got lucky: Where would the museum be now, if they hadn’t set their eyes on such a showstopping temporary home?

The Cutty Sark

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About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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