Swindon recently got its first glimpse of the latest architect’s images of how the proposed new museum and art gallery could look in situ – and how comments from members of the public have given the building a new footprint.
Since spring this year, the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust and architects Make, aided by museum staff, Friends of the Museum and volunteer supporters of the project, have had conversations with around 4,000 members of the public, employers and employees, heritage experts, teachers and others, about how the new museum and art gallery could look and work in practice.
Now the Trust and its team are in the final stages of consultation and engagement before they complete their application for stage one of Heritage Lottery funding for the new building in the town centre.
Trust director Rod Hebden says all the feedback, suggestions, comments and innovative ideas have been fed back to the architects, engineers and other professionals working on the design, and as a result the plans have evolved thoroughout the summer.
One of the most striking adjustments is that the position of the building, which was originally planned to be on the site of the old multi-storey carpark that stood next to the Wyvern, may now change to the opposite side of the open air carpark, bordering Princes Street.
“When we went out to consultation, the plans showed the new building directly on the space that remains now that the multi-storey car park has been demolished,” says Rod.
“But people began asking us why we weren’t showing the building off more to traffic and pedestrians passing through on Princes Street. This landmark building needs to be as prominent as possible, showing off the emerging cultural quarter and bringing people and much more investment into our town centre, where it is needed, so we discussed the feasibility of that with the team, and we’ve reconfigured the square so that the museum and art gallery can be on the edge of Princes Street, with the piazza to the west. We agree with those who suggested the change that it’s an even better solution than the one we began with.We’re now working closely with the council to see if we can explore whether this change can work.”
The Trust have also been liaising with teachers and lecturers about what schools and colleges might need to have configured in the new building to get the most out of the facilities, and have asked employers for their input too.
Meetings with neighbours to the site and a stakeholder workshop are also taking place in the coming weeks, and the competitive bid for Stage One funding will go in to the Heritage Lottery Fund in late November 2017.