Ipswich Borough Council is seeking design teams for an £8.6 million overhaul of the Grade II*-listed Ipswich Museum
The local authority is recruiting a lead consultant and gallery designer to prepare a Stage 2 Heritage Lottery Funding application and, if successful with the bid, take the scheme forward to completion.
The 2,100m² project, planned to complete in 2024, will upgrade the original museum building, an extension and a former library and boost accessibility between its exhibition spaces. MICA Architects won approval for the schemes Stage 1 Heritage Lottery Funding bid a year ago.
In its brief, the council says: ‘The development of Ipswich Museum is the key to connecting culture within the town. The cultural offer spreads in an arch that embraces Ipswich. It reaches out from the waterfront towards the western and across the northern gateways to the town. Ipswich has a culture, arts and heritage offer of which it can be proud, and the development of the museum will create a more strongly engaging and active focal point.
‘The cultural connections will be reinforced both in Ipswich and … beyond the town and Suffolk. The development of the Ipswich Museum site is regarded as pivotal to the town’s strategic plans for development and regeneration. It will enliven the northern gateway to the town centre and be a key to linking the new housing development on the northern fringe of Ipswich to the vibrant and lively waterfront.’
The museum occupies a purpose-built late-19th-century complex on High Street next to Ipswich Art School. It focuses on the culture, history and natural heritage of the town and Suffolk. Exhibits include copies of six Iron Age gold torcs, known as the Ipswich Hoard.
The project will ‘reveal, restore and reinstate’ features of the original Victorian museum buildings while boosting visitor numbers and ensuring the city’s heritage is accessible to everyone. Existing spaces will be conserved and refurbished, and a new learning space, special exhibitions area, café and shop will also be delivered.
The search for a design team comes eight months after the conclusion of Ipswich’s Upper Orwell Crossings fiasco, where £8.1 million was spent on the bridge project before it was scrapped amid rising costs following a much-criticised RIBA competition.
Bids for the museum design will be evaluated 50 per cent on quality and 50 per cent on price, while bids for the exhibition design will be evaluated 55 per cent on technical score, 5 per cent on quality and 40 per cent on price.
The winning teams will take the project forward and prepare its Stage 2 National Lottery Heritage Fund Application. The deadline for both contracts is midday, 22 January.
How to apply
Ipswich Borough Council
15-17 Russell Road
Tel: +44 1473433903