Maidstone Museum has been extensively remodelled by Hugh Broughton Architects.
Hugh Broughton Architects’ £3m refurbishment and extension of Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery in Kent has reinvigorated one of the largest and most diverse collections of arts, crafts and natural history in the south-east of England. The competition-winning project not only improves the museum’s circulation and gallery spaces, its also doubles its storage capacity, and reinstates previously inaccessible areas located within the existing grade-two star listed building, parts of which date back to 1561.
Clad with diamond-shaped, gold-coloured copper alloy shingles, the East Wing extension forms a prominent new entrance, attracting visitors from Maidstone High Street and reconnecting the museum with Brenchley Gardens to the north and St Faith’s Church to the east. Housed within the rectangular steel-framed structure is the Japanese Gallery, a visitor shop, ‘glazed box’ meeting room, and service spaces.
The brief necessitated high levels of sustainability and servicing in order to comply with the requirements of the Heritage Lottery Fund, who provided a £2m grant towards project costs, and the Government Indemnity Scheme. The latter will enable the museum to host prestigious touring exhibitions, elevating its cultural status and revenue stream. Services engineer Aecom worked closely with the architect to develop a fully integrated strategy that would have minimal impact on the historic structure and fabric of the building.
A key move both architecturally and environmentally is the use of ground source heating and cooling. The ground loop, which comprises 16 boreholes that reach to 120 metres deep below the adjacent gardens, is predicted to save over 60,000 kWh of energy per annum or 55 per cent of the total annual heating and cooling load compared to conventional systems. This will offset around 8.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Significantly, the plant required to operate a geothermal system occupies much less space than that of a conventional HVAC system. This enabled the architect to install a shallow 2.1 metre floor-to-ceiling height plant room between the ground and first floors of the East Wing. This in turn maximised the available exhibition and circulation space.
An all-air ventilation system was specified throughout the gallery spaces to ensure a quick and efficient response to changes in air humidity and temperature arising from fluctuating visitor levels. It is coupled to a heat recovery system that provides 80 per cent efficiency. The presence of listed ceilings meant that large areas of ductwork had to be carefully routed through the often cramped and tortuous roof spaces. The complexity of this task led Aecom to design all the service routes using 3D CAD modelling.
Daylighting is strictly controlled throughout the museum and supplemented by a comprehensive artificial lighting strategy, including low-energy luminaires and PIR sensors to non-exhibition areas. Large diamond-leaded windows, which had been boarded up for many years, have been uncovered and now bathe the newly refurbished temporary exhibition gallery, education room and shop in a soft, golden light.
Controlled daylighting is provided in the Japanese Gallery via an industrial saw-tooth roof profile. This also gives the impression of increased ceiling height in what would otherwise have been a rather low exhibition space. Located on the non-glazed, south-facing sloping roof profiles are photovoltaic arrays. Installed flush with the roof cladding, the panels power the internal lights and are predicted to generate 2600kWh of electricity per year. This will offset a further 1000kg of carbon dioxide. Metering is provided to log the performance of the building services. Energy savings are calculated by the building management system and displayed in the reception.
Architect: Hugh Broughton Architects; structure, services, lighting, security, CDM: AECOM; qs: GB Fitzsimon; main contractor: Morgan Sindall; client: Maidstone Borough Council; photos: Hufton & Crow (exterior), Matt Chisnall (interior).
Selected suppliers and subcontractors
Tecu copper cladding: KME; structural glazing, internal glass doors: Solaglass; GSHP: Aermec; photovoltaics: Worldwide Energy & Manufacturing USA; lighting: iGuzzini, Whitegoods Lighting; external louvres, internal blinds: Levolux.
First published in AT227, April 2012