Hawkins\Brown has won a publicly tendered contract to deliver Southend’s new £40 million seafront museum, now known as the Thames Estuary Museum
The studio defeated rival bids by Ove Arup and Partners, BDP, UNStudio and DSDHA to win the £1.3 million contract, backed by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.
The practice will now tweak an existing eight-year-old proposal by AEW (pictured), draw up plans for a ‘cohesive and interactive’ interior and ultimately deliver the scheme.
The search for a design team started in October last year, two months after the council scrapped an earlier call for architects so it could create a more ‘creative’ and ‘attractive proposition’ for bidders.
At the time, the council also renamed the complex – from the Southend-on-Sea Museum to the Thames Estuary Museum – to better reflect its vision for the venue and increase its appeal to national and international investors.
Southend’s executive councillor for culture, tourism and the economy Ann Holland said: ‘Hawkins\Brown will now start working closely with colleagues in the museums service to develop plans for what we need the Thames Estuary Experience to offer, within the space available.
‘By next summer, we hope to be in a position to submit a new planning application for the scheme. Throughout the process, we will work with a range of key partner organisations, including the people of Southend, giving them the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and comments.
Holland continued: ‘We need a venue of this magnitude as a home for the internationally significant finds unearthed when the tomb of the Prittlewell Prince was uncovered here in Southend-on-Sea, as well as other nationally important finds such as those from the 17th-century shipwreck of The London, a ship every bit as important for its time as the Mary Rose.
‘We are determined that the new Thames Estuary Experience will further widen the town’s appeal by extending our cultural tourism offer and cement our growing position nationally and internationally as a year-round visitor destination of quality and choice.’
Hawkins\Brown partner Hazel York said: ‘We are thrilled to be a part of the regeneration of Southend seafront. The new building will provide a destination for locals and visitors alike, celebrating Southend’s rich heritage as well as broader stories of the Thames Estuary.’
The attraction, on the Essex town’s Western Esplanade, will feature a museum, planetarium, restaurant, café, shop and multistorey car park.
Highlights will include relics from Southend’s royal Saxon tomb – unearthed in 2004 – and items from the shipwreck of the London, which sank 350 years ago.
AEW Architects originally won the project in March 2009, winning planning permission in 2012. Stabilisation works on the prominent cliff-side site have already been completed.
Hawkins\Brown will review existing plans against new client requirements before developing the scheme up to RIBA Stage 3.
The studio will then submit an updated planning application for the phased project, if required. Once approved RIBA Stage 4 plans and a BIM Level 2 model will then be delivered, with completion scheduled for 2019.
The first phase will deliver a 8,701m² car park while the second phase will comprise the 10,023m² museum, a 392m² planetarium and other facilities.
Last month ADP won a separate competition to design a landmark £6.3 million pavilion on nearby Southend Pier. The studio will deliver a flexible cultural and leisure facility at the landside northern end of the Essex town’s Grade II-listed structure, which at 2.16km is the longest recreational pier in the world.