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Architect sought for £12m Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
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The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) is seeking an architect-led design team to deliver its new £12 million Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth

The winner of the £500,000 contract will draw up plans for a Royal Marines Museum and Centre of Discovery in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. An exhibition designer for the scheme is also sought in a separate contract.

Planned to complete in 2021, the ‘SeaMore’ project will create a new 3,000m² exhibition and activity space inside the complex’s Grade II*-listed Boathouse 6 building (pictured) while also transforming the neighbouring Storehouse 12 into an archive.

The competition brief describes SeaMore as ‘a key stepping stone in the strategic masterplan for the site, leading it towards financial sustainability.

‘The New Royal Marines Museum in Boathouse 6, at the very heart of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, will place the 350-year history of the Royal Marines firmly within the story of the Royal Navy. For the first time the story of the Royal Marines – a national story, but also a story with impact across the globe – will be told in a building appropriate to its scale.’

Portsmouth’s naval dockyard was founded by Henry VII in the late 15th century. The city grew into one of the world’s largest industrial complexes during the 19th century, and is today one of the Royal Navy’s principal operating bases.

The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard – located next door to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth – is a complex of 18th-century buildings open to the public and focusing on maritime history. Key attractions include Wilkinson Eyre’s £27 million Mary Rose Museum and Horatio Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory.

Boathouse 6 is currently home to Action Stations, an interactive Royal Navy experience featuring flight simulators, climbing walls and a laser quest. The latest project will transform the structure into a new home for the Royal Marines Museum, which is currently situated in the nearby Eastney Barracks in Southsea.

A Centre for Discovery, hosting more than 2 million items from the NMRN’s collections, will also be delivered inside the neighbouring Storehouse 12 building.

Bids will be assessed 30 per cent on price and 70 per cent on quality. The deadline for applications is 2pm, 6 February.

How to apply

View the contract notice for more information

Contact details

Ross MacAskill
National Museum of the Royal Navy
HM Naval Base (PP66)

Tel: +44 2072690450
Email: ross.macaskill@uk.arteliagroup.com


Q+A: John Rawlinson, SeaMore project director

John Rawlinson

John Rawlinson

John Rawlinson

What is your vision for The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) SeaMore Project?

The SeaMore project is as much about transforming an organisation as it is about buildings and interpretation. The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) cares for some 2.2m objects across museums and historic ships located around the UK. SeaMore unites the story of the Royal Marines with the other naval heritage in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and becomes a gateway to the entire NMRN collection with revolutionary levels of public access. Architectural quality is paramount, the project sees two existing buildings converted. Both are historically important and located in Portsmouth amongst the most significant collection of scheduled monuments, listed buildings and historic ships that together tell the story of the Royal Navy. The total cost of the project is £18.5m.

How will the new scheme relate to historic waterfront complex and its ongoing development masterplan?

The project is at the heart of the regeneration of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and is central to the 25 year strategy masterplan for the site. Boathouse 6 that will house the new Royal Marines Museum is an imposing listed building that overlooks the scheduled Mast Pond which dates back to the 17th century. Store House 12, currently home to the Admiralty Library, will be recreated as the Centre for Discovery and will be linked to the existing buildings that house the main NMRN galleries. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard lies alongside the newly improved Hard transport interchange, due to open in 2017, and nearby is the Gunwharf Quays premium outlet centre.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Source: Image by Mattbuck

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

What sort of architects are you hoping will apply?

We are very open minded and have already had a huge amount of interest from established and new practices. Working in such an historic setting that is also a working naval base and will soon become home to the new aircraft carrier means a sensitive hand as well as great creative ideas is going to be needed for all elements of the project.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects be procured?

The NMRN has exciting development plans for its existing museums in Hartlepool, Yeovilton and Gosport that will be delivered over the next ten years and therefore there will be huge opportunities for architects to make their mark on naval heritage.

Are there any other similar museum and archive project you have been impressed by?

SeaMore is unique and the access to archives, books, pictures and artefacts all in one place will make it a very exciting place to be. We have been impressed with the Library of Birmingham, which opened in 2013. Its architect Francine Houben famously described it as a People’s Palace and with the emphasis on access, this is precisely what we hope to achieve with SeaMore.

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