Hugh Broughton's golden wonder opens in Maidstone
Hugh Broughton Architects’ £3 million long-awaited revamp and extension of the Maidstone Museum and Bentlif Art Gallery opened last week
The East Wing scheme, which was won following an RIBA competition in 2007, is clad in gold shingles, a nod to the 60,000 treasures inside.
The architect’s view
The core of Maidstone Museum, a Grade II listed building located within the boundaries of a conservation area, is a Tudor manor house dating from 1561.
The building was acquired by Maidstone Borough Council in 1855 and opened as a Museum in 1858. Since then it has been subject to numerous
expansions, resulting in an eclectic architectural arrangement.
The East Wing project forms the second phase of the Museumʼs redevelopment programme, following the renovation of the West Wing in 2003. The aims of the project have been three-fold including the long-term preservation of the museumʼs collection, increase in visitor numbers and
greater public involvement.
As well as improving storage facilities, the scheme brings previously inaccessible spaces into use and allows more of the Museumʼs historic buildings to be
experienced. The East Wing provides new gallery spaces, which enable more of the collections to be seen. The provision of new and improved services
including a shop, new toilets with baby-changing facilities and cloakroom, ease visitor circulation throughout the building and enhance the visitor experience.
The East Wing responds to the multilayered history and architecture of the museum.
Copper alloy shingles emulate the diamond leaded glass windows of the original Tudor building
The elevations combine frameless glazing with a diagrid of copper alloy shingles, creating a contemporary counterpoise to the existing brick facades. The copper alloy shingles emulate the diamond leaded glass
windows of the original Tudor building and have been individually hand cut and crafted on site, enhancing the artisanal qualities of the Museum.
A new entrance on the East elevation welcomes visitors from Maidstone High Street into the new East Wing. The entrance opens into an open plan foyer
and orientation area occupied by Maidstoneʼs Visitor Information Centre and the Museum shop.
Beyond the foyer and shop a multi-functional education suite brings areas previously occupied by storage into lively public use, creating a designated
study area for community groups and schools.
At ground floor level the principal public space in the East Wing is a gallery housing one of the museumʼs noteworthy exhibits - a Solomon Islands war
canoe, the only example of its kind outside of the Islands. Glazing on the rear wall of this gallery reveals a public courtyard and Tudor facades unseen by
the public for over 40 years.
At first floor level a public meeting room housed in a glazed box offers dramatic views of St. Faithʼs Church which visually re-connects the museum with Brenchley Gardens, fulfilling the ambitions of the Museumʼs Victorian founders. A system of bespoke connectors between the glass and steel structure ensures a completely frameless flush glazed finish. The new Japanese Gallery is located within the copper clad space above the reception. It is lit by an undulating ceiling of north-facing rooflights, which enliven the white cube space and ensure an even stream of daylight in to the gallery. This gallery is the new permanent home for one of the museumʼs highlights, an internationally significant display of Japanese Art collected in the nineteenth century by one of the Museumʼs founders, Julius Brenchley.
Internal materials have been selected to complement the existing palette and for their suitability to the specific requirements of museum design ie. highdensity
lining boards for all walls, to ensure total flexibility for hanging exhibitions and matt sealed timber floors to minimise reflections in display areas.
In addition to these new galleries, the existing galleries in the original museum have been refurbished and re-organised, increasing the display space by
30 per cent.
Beyond the public spaces, the practice has worked closely with the museum staff to completely overhaul and modernize the storage spaces, increasing the
capacity by 100 per cent, and improving security and accessibility.
Shingles TECU Gold copper alloy cladding shingles, 0.7mm gauge, by KME UK
Insulation Rockwool RW3, 120mm thick
Breather membrane Tyvek Supro spunbonded polyethylene, by DuPont
Cement fibreboard Versapanel, unsanded, by Euroform Products
Engineered timber (public and display areas) Gold leaf Prime European Oak, ref. HW174,
Herringbone pattern, by Havwoods, sealed with 3 coats of Bona Traffic Matt by BonaKemi
Rubber tiles (education room) DalTex Omega, colour ref. Bleu Oiseau, by Dalsouple
Porcelain tiles (toilets) Pietre del Nord rectified, colour ref. Alaska, by Reed Harris
Plastic sheeting (storage rooms) Altro Walkway 20 Safety floor, pattern ref. Dolphin, by Altro