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Amanda Levete wins green light for ‘radical’ £42m Paisley Museum revamp

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Amanda Levete’s practice AL_A has won planning consent to transform Paisley Museum and Art Gallery into a £42 million ‘world-class destination’

Renfrewshire Council appointed the team led by AL_A for the overhaul of the Category A-listed Neoclassical building early last year. The practice was picked ahead of six other 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 overlooking 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

Paisley Museum and Art Galleries contains 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

Councillor Marie McGurk, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s communities, housing and planning board, said the project was ‘at the heart of our bold plans to transform Paisley town centre in the years ahead’.

She added: ‘The designs which have been produced blend the old and the new – they will create a 21st-century visitor experience while preserving a key part of our fantastic architectural legacy, and ensure this much-loved building can stay at the heart of life in the area for generations to come.

‘Paisley’s name is already known around the world – and when the museum reopens in 2022 it will allow us to invite the world to come back to Paisley, providing new opportunities, life and footfall for the town centre and wider Renfrewshire area.’

The scheme – officially the Paisley Museum Reimagined project – already has Round One funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.

Now the plans have been unanimously approved, work could start on site in spring next year.

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