Newly-revamped Northampton Museum and Art Gallery wins regional architectural award and shortlisted for national prize

'The collaborative approach has resulted in a fantastic transformation which provides a unique experience for visitors to the museum'

By Jack Duggan
Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 9:17 am
Northampton Museum and Art Gallery
Northampton Museum and Art Gallery

The newly-revamped Northampton Museum and Art Gallery has won a regional architectural award and is shortlisted for the national prize.

The Guildhall Road museum won the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Building Excellence Award for the best non-residential extension in the East Midlands.

Northampton Museum is now shortlisted for the National Building Excellence Awards in January 2022.

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Inside the revamped Northampton Museum and Art Gallery

West Northamptonshire Council deputy leader Adam Brown 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."

The museum has undergone a £6.7 million refurbishment, which has been around five years in the making - due to pandemic delays and more - and was funded by the controversial sale of an Egyptian statue.

As part of the renovation, the museum has doubled in size, has a new, dedicated shoe gallery, two art galleries, a huge temporary exhibition space, a central hall with a three-wall projection playing different films, a large and airy atrium, a new shop and selling gallery supporting local businesses, artists and makers, a cafe and an outside terrace.

The accolade was recently awarded to the project team, including Kettering-based firm GSSArchitecture, Wildgoose Construction and West Northamptonshire Council.

They 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 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.

GSSArchitecture partner and lead architect Tom Jagger 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 Brown added: “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.”