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Museum expansion wins regional building award

Culture and tourism

02 November 2021

Northampton Museum AtriumThe atrium extension

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery is the East Midlands regional winner of a Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Building Excellence Award for the ‘best non-residential extension’ category and is now shortlisted for the National Building Excellence Awards in January 2022.

The accolade was recently awarded to the project team, including Kettering-based firm GSSArchitecture, Wildgoose Construction and West Northamptonshire Council, who worked in collaboration with Northampton Museum and Art Gallery to design the nine-metre high atrium extension, that now links the original museum to new galleries and houses the world-renowned shoe collection.

The extension was judged against a range of criteria, including how the project team overcame design problems and how the extension exceeded minimum building regulations standards.

The large amount of glass used in the extension presented a challenge, as the inside space could get overheated during the summer months. To resolve this, the architects carried out thermal modelling on several design options, resulting in the use of solar control glazing and the glass walls being positioned so they benefitted from shade cast by adjacent buildings.

Tom Jagger, Partner and Lead Architect at GSSArchitecture, said: 

We are thrilled that this extensive remodelling and extension project at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery has been announced as a Regional Winner at this year’s LABC Building Excellence Awards.

“The new and improved spaces are proving to be a huge success following the museum’s reopening to the public earlier this year and this award further recognises the great work carried out by the project team.

“The collaborative approach has resulted in a fantastic transformation which provides a unique experience for visitors to the museum. Fingers crossed the project will receive the national LABC award at the ceremony in January.

The award entry highlighted how the atrium extension has created a large communal space, housing a café and outdoor terrace, overlooking the museum’s new courtyard. Additionally, a previously hidden historic arch was revealed while works were taking place, which has now become a prominent feature of the extension.

The shoe gallery on the lower floor of the extension was designed to extend into the older vaulted cellars underneath the existing museum, creating an interesting and unique visitor experience.

Councillor Adam Brown, Deputy Leader of West Northamptonshire Council and Cabinet member for culture, leisure and housing, said: 

This award is testament to all the hard work that went into transforming the old Northampton Museum and Art Gallery into the striking, modern and welcoming community space that we have today, and we are very pleased that the design has been recognised at a regional level.

“GSSArchitecture’s design has transformed the museum into an impressive focal point for the growing cultural quarter, and a fitting showcase for the town's fascinating history and internationally important shoe collection.
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