In October 2007, Dow Jones Architects won an architectural competition to redesign the museum. The competition brief asked for a new gallery space where temporary exhibitions could be housed in secure and environmentally-controlled conditions.
Text description and more photographs and drawings after the break.
It appeared to us that creating a dedicated place for the museum’s permanent collection was equally important, as the exhibits were frequently moved to make space for events. We developed a strategy which addressed both issues.
Our idea was to create a belvedere within the existing building. This houses the new galleries and provides a raised ground from which a new perspective of the existing building is attained.
The belvedere structure enables us to place the temporary gallery at ground floor level and move the permanent collection, from its former location in the nave, up to the new first floor level.
This new arrangement also empties the nave of exhibits so that the museum’s diverse cultural programme of lectures, debates and seminars can take place alongside the exhibitions.
The belvedere is made from Eurban, a pre-fabricated structural timber material. We used this material as it is light weight and very strong, and allowed us to realise the building forms we required. Being pre-fabricated and made of large panels it is also very quick to build with. The museum was closed for only 12 weeks whilst the work took place, and of this time the structure took three weeks to assemble.
The timber structure is very environmentally friendly. It is made from farmed European timber and is carbon negative. This building has removed 200 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.
We enjoy the close tonal similarity between the new structure and the existing limestone walls. The timber walls are left unfinished so that they, with the limestone, recede into the background, leaving the foreground for the exhibits and the life of the museum.
The windows and doors are strongly coloured and protrude through the raw timber walls. The furniture and signage is also strongly coloured and is read as a further layer of detail added to the mute timber form.