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MUMA wins Whitworth Gallery contest

Victory in competition to revamp and extend Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery after process that attracted 130 practices

The practice’s plans for the development include an art garden and second entrance, a new informal ‘cafe in the trees’, a landscape gallery and study area allowing visitors and researchers to get closer to the collections when they are not on public display. Plans will be worked up during the next year and will be presented as part of the final stage of the Whitworth’s Heritage Lottery Fund bid in 2010.

Tom Bloxham, chair of the judging panel and chancellor of the University of Manchester said: ‘All the shortlisted designs were outstanding and had unique strengths, however MUMA’s design shone in its thoughtful and sensitive response to a complex brief.

‘Amongst many delightful touches the prospect of visiting a cafe in the tree canopy was particularly enjoyed, along with many further connections between gallery and surrounding park landscape. MUMA demonstrated care not only in the development of new designs but also in their consideration of improvements to the existing building.’

In an AJ website poll of 700 readers, 59 per cent selected MUMA as their favourite shortlisted scheme.

MUMA (McInnes, Usher, McKnight Architects) was established in 2000 after the principals met as students at the Mackintosh School of Architecture. MUMA has recently completed the extension and refurbishment of the original Newlyn Art Gallery and the conversion of a redundant telephone exchange in Penzance, into ‘The Exchange’, a new contemporary art gallery, the re-design of the restaurant at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the new restaurant and café for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Currently MUMA’s foremost public project is the new £30m Medieval & Renaissance Galleries for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London which opens 2nd December 2009.

MUMA's Whitworth Gallery winning proposals

MUMA’s Whitworth Gallery winning proposals

Previous story: September 30, 2009

Picked from nearly 140 entries, the shortlisted practices are: Amanda Levete Architects, Edward Cullinan Architects, Haworth Tompkins, MUMA and Stanton Williams Architects.

The winner of the much-anticipated RIBA-organised contest will land the prize project of overhauling the Grade II-listed gallery and designing a new addition to the building’s south-west side, overlooking Whitworth Park.

click here to read the full competition timeline

Previous story (13.08.09)

Hadid misses out as final five for Whitworth Gallery named

Zaha Hadid, Dixon Jones and Feilden Clegg Bradley have all failed to make it onto the final shortlist in the contest to revamp and extend the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester

However, Amanda Levete, Stanton Williams and Ted Cullinan are still in the running to win the much-anticipated RIBA-organised contest – the winner of which will land the prize project of overhauling the Grade-II listed gallery and designing a new addition to the building’s South-west side overlooking Whitworth Park.

The trio are joined by Haworth Tompkins and MUMA and have have until mid September 2009 to work on their concept designs. All five propoals will go on display in October and a winner will be announced in November.

Full contest shortlist

Amanda Levete Architects
Edward Cullinan Architects
Haworth Tompkins
Stanton Williams




Readers' comments (15)

  • Amanda Levete's is the only one with an originality here. The others seem rather safe.

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  • how the hell can you tell that from the image attached?

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  • Yes, nice roof plan!

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  • Very nice pattern! Love it!

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  • Please show more of the Cullinan submission - looks intriguing

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  • Stanton Williams' scheme looks like the only one working with the existing building - not some bolt on indulgence to satisfy architects whimsy. Can we see materials and detailing please - this is bound to be a work of quality and real design aesthetic!

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  • Really difficult to tell from these rather inadequate pictures but I think it is a very exciting project and I would like the integrity and history of the building to be respected but re-interpreted in an imaginative and creative way as per the Stanton Williams scheme.

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  • Please can you show more images for each scheme as there is not enough information to ascertain what is being proposed to enable me to decide who to vote for.

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  • MUMA is positively the best in class where the rest are an expected functional aesthetic.

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  • The MUMA proposal is the most sophisticated - it has an ephemeral quality which both contrasts with and respects the existing building.

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  • Levete's is an expected functional aesthetic, really? I think you need to go lie down. How can you tell MUMA's has and ephemeral quality, because the image is ghost like?

    Why is there no Manchester architects involved in this competition? Is there no talent capable in the North West?

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  • Quick crit:
    Amanda Levete
    Great graphic and concept but possibly poor spatially - hard to tell
    Ted Cullinan
    Timid, commercial, predicable
    Haworth Tomkins
    Great presentation - the courtyard looks amazing - but the building looks cheap and cluttered - lose the ribs
    Hard to tell, but could be the winner - an elegant, gossamer contrast to the solidity of the existing building
    Stanton Williams
    A cheap approximation of the existing building - this one says: we don't build like we used to, but can try with a stripped-down banality that makes people hate architects.

    Conclusion: Obviously, it's between Levete and MUMA

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  • give it to dunlop and murrey - stop them whinging for 5 mins

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  • Interesting from the comments above Amanda Levete, Haworth Tompkins and Stanton Williams schemes are the only ones that show architectural intent. The other two are images are meaningless. Knowing the Whitworth gallery well (which im sure most of the people above do not) and knowing how poor the back elevation is that faces the park my vote goes to Stanton Williams. Its the only scheme that seems to address the existing building form holistically. How anyone can vote on the the two poor elevations is a sad reflection of the readers of AJ.

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  • Satnon Williams scheme for me...looks pretty well resolved.

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