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A&DS 'disappointed' with Simpson and Brown's Burns museum proposals

Architecture and Design Scotland (A&DS) has expressed its 'disappointment' at Simpson and Brown Architects' proposals for a Robert Burns museum in Alloway, Scotland.

The Edinburgh-based practice hopes to design a new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum complete with visitor centre in the south Ayrshire region, but Scotland's design watchdog raised concerns over the design for the second time, after questioning it at the original review, at a recent design review meeting.

According to A&DS, Simpson and Brown's designs 'have not changed significantly since those seen in the original review, and we are disappointed that many of our earlier concerns have not been addressed in the current designs'.

The practice is not the project leader on the scheme, which, according to the review committee, has led to a 'lack of engagement with the site', and the client's request of 'content' over 'external experience' is hindering the design.

However, A&DS is critical of the positioning and even states that the 'building appears to have been designed from the inside out, with the architectural design being heavily influenced by the exhibitor's requirements'.

The most recent report concluded: 'We do not believe that the designs display the architectural ambition and integration with their setting that might be expected of a museum of international importance in such a significant location.'

In response to the review comments, practice partner Stewart Brown said: 'Right from the off we knew there would be a strong emphasis on content in the museum, and we would be following the ideas of the exhibition designers.

'I don't think A&DS quite appreciate the very short time we had to come up with these proposals, and we were told by our client that they were looking at a 'black box' design, which gave little room for detail, and would simply be housing the objects on display, such as manuscripts and documents.'

by Richard Vaughan

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