Amanda Levete’s practice AL_A has revealed the first images of its plans to transform Paisley Museum and Art Gallery into a ‘world-class destination’
Renfrewshire Council appointed the team led by AL_A for the £42 million overhaul of the Category A-listed Neoclassical building in early 2018, ahead of seven shortlisted firms, including MICA, WilkinsonEyre, Zaha Hadid Architects and Richard Murphy Architects.
The local authority hopes the project, which includes adding a red-glazed entrance hall and a sweeping new west wing to the John Honeyman-designed landmark, will create a ’leading European museum’ to showcase ‘the stories of Paisley’s people and pattern’.
When it reopens in 2022, the museum expects visitor numbers to quadruple to 125,000 a year.
- Construction of an entrance courtyard with a dramatic, red-glazed hall, creating a ‘dynamic and inviting presence on the High Street and a contemporary face for the museum’
- A new wing to the west of the existing building providing step-free access through the museum up to the Coats Observatory, the oldest public observatory in Scotland, containing learning spaces overlooknig a new garden
- internal renovations to improve accessibility and circulation, deliver international environmental standards for gallery spaces and allow the museum to more than double the number of objects on display to 1,200
- The creation of an interactive weaving studio
Amanda Levete said: ’The brief for Paisley Museum is one of the most radical I’ve encountered.
‘Paisley has a proud industrial past and a history of innovation and radical thinking. We have embedded this into our design to create an extraordinary place for the community of Paisley.’
The seven competition submissions for the scheme were evaluated 80 per cent on quality and 20 per cent on cost. AL_A came out on top of the tender scoring process, closely followed by MICA and then the other five shortlisted firms.
Some 128 companies initially expressed an interest in the scheme – officially the Paisley Museum Reimagined project – with 32 submitting an official request to participate, and undergoing an initial evaluation.
Paisley Museum and Art Galleries hosts the world’s largest collection of Paisley shawls, along with many 19th-century Scottish paintings and local history artefacts. The 1871 complex was a gift to the town from local industrialist Peter Coats.
Plans - existing building left; as proposed right
Describing AL_A’s design concept, John Hume, former Chair of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments Scotland, said: ’I am thoroughly impressed by the thoughtful and sensitive approach of the architects to a remarkable group of buildings in a critical location for this unique place.
’At a time when there is a real risk of erosion of cultural experience, such interventions are of the utmost importance, and it is fitting Paisley should be at the forefront of what will be not just regeneration but also in the best sense, renaissance.’
The Paisley Museum Reimagined project has Round One funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.
Plans have now been submitted to Renfrewshire Council and, if approved, could start on site in spring next year.