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Amanda Levete reveals first images of 'radical' £42m Paisley Museum revamp

  • 8 Comments

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.

Key proposals

  • 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.

Amanda levete paisley plans

Plans - existing building left; as proposed right

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.

  • 8 Comments

Readers' comments (8)

  • What's that redical red glazed hall all about then?

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  • Thank you Amanda Levete for saying the brief is one of the most radical you have encountered. FYI AJ readers - vision and masterplan for Paisley Museum and Art Gallery produced by Metaphor. Renfrewshire council wisely realised the masterplan should be content and exhibition led. Nice to see ALA have run with all the concepts.

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  • I've no doubt that the scheme is a deserved winner, but as you seem to know a good deal about the project, what then is concept that has driven the red glazed drum?

    I'm genuinely interested particularly as the architect uses a similar red at the V+A and it seems to be splashed throughout their website; on graphics, headings, carpets, doors and furniture. Rather than a radical interpretation of the brief, It could be interpreted as corporate signposting and in the context of this setting, frankly, brusque.

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  • Building well is difficult. Building architecture is next to impossible. Building next to a work of architecture creates even greater anxieties.

    The Amanda Levete, Architects proposed addition to the Paisely Museum and Art Gallery, loaded up on klonopin, seems oblivious to any anxiety, particularly when it comes to essential transgressions of architecture's three-millennia-old language.

    They have aped the apse of the original and shoved it next to the existing. Meanwhile, inexplicably, they've programmed it as the new entrance, glazed it in glass, red in their model, but more like the bronze glazing so popular in the 1960s & 70s in their aerial perspective. For reasons only the architects know, they've attached to this oxymoronic apsidal entrance an anamorphic version of the USS Arizona Monument. Uncanny.

    We seem to be back in the 1960s, only nothing is cool, there's far less sex, and all the wrong drugs.

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  • Imagine being inside a red glazed space..... hmmm I’d rather not! Missed opportunity to create something truly elegant in this context, let’s hope they are still developing the design.

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  • I think this is feminist architecture, because the new entrance looks like a symbolic vulva in plan, so the red entrance hall is a metaphorical return to the womb. Philosophically, the analogy is one of creation, both of new life and a work of art, which are equated as similar processes, involving the ecstasy of conception and the painful process of birth. I'll be in Montmartre having a coffee if any more post-modern-post-rationalisation is needed!

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  • Hi Number Five, this sounds like a fun game, can I play? Let's see, any building over 10 stories designed by a male architect is compensating for inadequacies in the trouser department - am I doing this right? Grow up and critique the awful architecture, not the gender.

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  • Lighten up Clara, sex and architecture are meant to be fun! If what you are describing was designed by a woman, then it was clearly motivated by penis envy. Freudian analysis persists because it works.

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