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Five on list to complete museum Darwin Centre


LONDON'S Natural History Museum has shortlisted five firms to battle it out for a £65 million redevelopment.

The museum in South Kensington is getting ready for the second part of its Darwin Centre.

The first £20 million phase was completed by Shepherd in 2000 and now houses the museum's 22 million animal specimens. The firm has not tendered for the latest project as it has decided it already has enough work in the capital.

Instead HBG, Laing O'Rourke, Mowlem, Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska have all lined up for the £45 million construction contract.

The new eight-storey building, designed by Danish architect CF Moller, will house a collection of 28 million insects and six million plants.

A project source said: 'The collection is currently housed in a 1930s building but we have a problem with pests. New regulations mean we can't use chemicals to get rid of them any more so we need a new building that is more resilient to pests.

'The collection will now be moved to other displays and storage while the old building is knocked down.

Whoever knocks the building down will have to be careful however that the original Victorian museum is not affected.

'Then the second phase of the Darwin Centre will be built. The aim is to provide better facilities both for the public and for those who work here. The current building is basically past its sellby date.' The 19,500 sq m Darwin Centre Two will be a concrete framed building with a glass exterior and is designed to open up the museum's collections to the public.

Instead of keeping the bulk of the museum's specimens behind closed doors the public will be able to view them. The public will also be able to watch the museum's scientists carrying out research at the centre.

The main contract, which includes the fit-out, is being let in parallel with the £10 million mechanical and electrical contract.

As soon as the main contractor is known the M&E firm will be appointed so that the winning outfit can submit its second-stage bid.

Tenders will be returned by August 8 and a winner will be chosen later that month.

Work is due to start on September 1 and the complex should be open to the public by winter 2008.

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