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Foster + Partners submits plans for Cotswolds car museum

Foster + Partners' proposals for Mullin Automotive Park

Foster + Partners has submitted proposals to West Oxfordshire District Council for a £130 million car museum in the Cotswolds

Mullin Automotive Park at Enstone Airfield is designed as a collection of buildings forming a crescent within a parkland site.

The museum, close to Chipping Norton and the Soho Farmhouse members club, will look at the past and the future of motoring. The broader scheme will include 28 holiday homes and a corporate hospitality centre.

But the scheme has attracted local objections, with some local residents claiming its scale and intensity are contrary to the local development plan.

Fosters’ proposal comes after a previous scheme for the site, led by landscape architects Portus + Whitton, was withdrawn last year. 

Foster + Partners head of studio Gerard Evenden said: ‘We are delighted to be part of this exciting new development that represents the convergence of mobility and lifestyle to create a new vision for the future.

‘Mullin Automotive Park will be a unique cultural destination set in Cotswold countryside, which seeks to support the wider community as well as providing a special experience for classic automobile collectors.’

The practice said its design took inspiration from a rural estate, creating a journey through a crafted landscape towards a main building.

Roads have been designed within the park to give cars from the Mullin collection a runout, allowing visitors to have an ‘immersive experience’. Proposals also include a series of residential pavilions and landscaped lodges bringing automotive enthusiasts closer to their collections.

The built form of the museum will be orientated to maximise thermal performance, as well as using other passive measures and renewable technologies to minimise energy consumption. 

Museum founder and US businessman Peter Mullin outlined his vision of the way cars would develop.

‘My great grandchildren will probably never drive a motor car – at least not as we know it,’ he said. ‘Instead they will travel in secure autonomous pods controlled by a computer.

‘The Mullin Automotive Park will tell the powerful story of the automobile and its role in shaping our societies, while also offering a view into the myriad possibilities that the future holds.’

However, a number of objections to the plans have been lodged on the council planning website over issues including a lack of affordable housing in the broader scheme.

One letter, claiming to be on behalf of 32 local residents, said: ‘This proposal flies in the face of the planning policies most  relevant to the scale and form of development, and its intensity of activity … this development is contrary to the development plan.’ 

Last year, former Star Trek actor, Patrick Stewart, who owns a house nearby the site, led a campaign against the previous scheme, which he described as ‘elitist’.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Strange to situate the history of the car, that speaks so clearly of the futurist inspired desire for speed, sex and ultimately death, within a rather twee landscape that appears to seek to deny the cars ultimate urbanity and also to greenwash, simply by an overabundance of green stuff, its deleterious effects on our lungs and the planet.

    Why are architects always so unwilling to explore such themes?

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  • Star architect plans to ride roughshod through all planning policies to protect the countryside.

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  • 'Seeks to support the wider community' is hopefully not the same as the Trumpspeak up on the Aberdeen coast, where it would've been translated as meaning menial jobs for the local peasantry.

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