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FCBS and Purcell win cash boost for St Fagans

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National Museum Wales has won second round funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to redevelop Wales’ most-visited heritage attraction, St Fagans National History Museum

Purcell will redevelop the Grade II-listed 1975 main museum block - reportedly influenced by the Louisiana Museum in Denmark and designed by Percy Thomas Partnership - while Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) has designed a new £2.5 million exhibition pavilion.

Called the Gweithdy, which is Welsh for ‘workshop’, this new building will house a ‘hands-on’ exhibition space and education centre as well as helping to ‘reorientate and disperse visitors more evenly throughout the site.’

Opened in 1948 as the Welsh Folk Museum, the museum includes more than 40 buildings which ‘represent the architecture of Wales’, including a nonconformist chapel, a village schoolhouse, a cockpit, a pigsty and a tannery. Almost all of the structures were transported from various parts of Wales and rebuilt on the site.

Both projects have been granted full planning permission and listed building consent from Cardiff City Council.

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The architect’s view - Purcell

Purcell was commissioned to design proposals to redevelop the main museum building to provide a more functional layout and enhance the relationship between internal and external spaces. It is a prominent example of Welsh modernist architecture and was recently grade II listed by Cadw. 

Our design approach for the project was informed by a conservation management plan also undertaken by the practice. To cater for increased visitor numbers, the building will be reorganised and extended to reorientate key galleries, provide a new restaurant, learning and exhibition spaces, and create a more intuitive visitor route.

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A key feature of the scheme is a new roof over an existing central courtyard to create a large, exciting double height orientation space with access to all elements of the museum. Located centrally in the plan this space will complement the strong architectural composition of the existing buildings and enable visitors to circulate from one level to the next, via key exhibition areas.

The massing of the new additions has been arranged to respect and respond to the elemental nature of the existing building complex and reinstate the architectural integrity of the southern façade of the original modernist building.  To lessen their impact, these volumes step down to the south in response to the gently sloping gradient of the ground which will also be landscaped as part of the scheme.

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