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Hampshire County Council Architects reveals stripped-back D-Day museum

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Ahead of the 75th anniversary of D-Day next year, Hampshire County Council Architects has redeveloped the D-Day museum in Portsmouth

Re-named ‘The D-Day Story’, the £5 million project was supported by a £4 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant. Hampshire County Council’s architects and interior designers worked alongside exhibition designer Studio MB and landscape architect UBU Design to create the new space. Alongside significant alterations and a refurbishment of the building and its surroundings, the project included the conservation of the 83m-long Overlord Embroidery. A new exhibition has also been created using personal accounts.

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D-Day Museum by Hampshire County Council Architects

The architecture of the original 1980s building has been revealed and its fabric upgraded, exposing the large circular exhibition hall containing the embroidery, and enabling this form to be legible both inside and out. Moving the café into the new concourse has enabled a conference, education and temporary exhibition space to be created, offering a range of activities and outreach programmes, while outside a new plaza has been created with a ‘Normandy Memorial Wall’ which incorporates nine Cor-Ten steel totems. 

Architect’s view

Our concept was to open up the heart of the building to create a concourse that offers a welcoming hub of activity and improves visitor orientation. This new foyer links the refurbished exhibition spaces together and strengthens the museum’s connection with its relandscaped forecourt and the adjacent scheduled ancient monument of Southsea Castle.

Laura Jarman, Hampshire County Council Property Services

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D-Day Museum by Hampshire County Council Architects

Ground floor plan

Landscape architect’s view

The design for the entrance area provides a simple and elegant plaza creating a generous space to the front of the museum. The new plaza is surfaced in a resin-bound gravel alluding to the Normandy beaches, bisected by a series of granite bands which ‘fragment’ and ‘fracture’ the ground plain. The works also included the creation of the Normandy Memorial Wall.

Working closely with the D-Day trustees, we developed a design for a series of feature totems, which have a striking visual presence with a simple message that compliments the intent of the memorial wall. The finished items comprise nine Cor-Ten steel totems three metres high with the word ‘Remember’ laser cut into the steel in different languages, representing the nations involved in the campaign. The use of Cor-ten steel means each totem will change and age in a subtle and unique way. 

Mark Johnson, UBU Design

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D-Day Museum by Hampshire County Council Architects

Project data

Completion May 2018 
Overall project cost
£4.8 million
Base build cost £1.7 million
Architect and interior designer Hampshire County Council Architects
Client Portsmouth City Council
Project management Focus Consultants
Landscape architect UBU Design
Exhibition designer Studio MB
Branding designer Studio LR
Contractor Pilbeam Construction
M&E Pope Consulting
Structural engineer Marbas

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