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Hunt begins for architect to reimagine Lake District's Wordsworth Museum

Grasmere, Cumbria
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The Wordsworth Trust is seeking an architect for a £3.25 million overhaul of the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere, Cumbria

The project will primarily refurbish and extend a Grade II-listed former coaching block which sits north of the Grade I-listed Dove Cottage (pictured), where the English Romantic poet penned some of his most influential works.

The scheme, dubbed Reimagining Wordsworth, aims to entice new audiences to the Lake District landmark and deliver a more financially and environmentally sustainable future for the trust.

According to the brief: ‘The trust is looking for an architect and multidisciplinary team who will demonstrate an understanding of the special nature of this project and has significant experience working on heritage properties.

‘A track record of engaging with interpretation designers and project teams will be an important consideration in the selection process.

‘This is an exciting opportunity to create a completely new interpretation of a unique literary heritage site, a poet’s home with internationally important collections in the heart of the Lake District, and to help fulfil Wordsworth’s own hope: that his poetry make us “wiser, better, happier”.’

Dove Cottage, in Town End on the outskirts of Grasmere, was home to Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy from December 1799 to May 1808.

The former Dove and Olive Branch public house was constructed in the early 17th century on the main road between Ambleside and Keswick, and features limewashed walls and a slate roof.

With no running water and only an outside toilet, the cottage allowed the poet to focus on ‘plain living, but high thinking’. The rustic home featured a simple interior and wild garden, and became a popular destination for influential writers.

After Wordsworth moved to a larger home nearby, the cottage was briefly occupied by the English essayist Thomas De Quincey. It was then purchased by the Wordsworth Trust in 1891 and transformed into a museum which today receives around 50,000 visitors every year.

The trust is now seeking a ‘fresh, well detailed and sensitive’ vision to transform the mostly textual museum complex into a new ‘multisensory, multimedia and layered environment’.

The project will create a shop, reception area and public toilets by expanding the museum’s existing retail facilities across three cottages neighbouring the coaching block.

A first floor café, new administrative facilities, re-landscaped courtyard and enlarged car park will also be delivered, as well as measures to introduce more natural light to the historic building and improve views of the surrounding landscape. The project is scheduled to complete in 2020.

London-based cultural masterplanner Metaphor completed a RIBA Stage 1 study for the project four years ago. The winning team will develop the scheme up to RIBA Stage 7 following a successful Heritage Lottery Fund bid. An interpretation designer is sought in a separate lot.

The deadline for applications is 4pm on 12 October.

How to apply

View the contract notice for more information

Contact details

Marie Batty
Wordsworth Trust
Dove Cottage
LA22 9SH

Tel: +44 1539463523
Email: m.batty@wordsworth.org.uk


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