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Haptic wins competition to design Margate train museum

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Haptic Architects has won a competition to design a railway museum on the outskirts of Margate in Kent

The London practice was chosen ahead of five unnamed teams and will create a new home for the One:One Collection within the former headquarters of model railway manufacturer Hornby, which is on an industrial estate close to the Westwood retail park

The project will transform a 12,000m² warehouse, which was used to build model trains until the 1990s and is now home to a Hornby visitor centre.

The museum, for heritage rail company Locomotive Storage, will feature several restored full-scale locomotives, including a 1960s BR Class 47 diesel-electric locomotive built during the 1960s, a Cowans Sheldon breakdown crane, and the 1937 Class A4 Locomotive, Bittern (pictured).

Locomotive Storage director Frank Martin said: ‘We have a vision for the One:One Collection which we’ve developed over the last 12 months, working with local agencies Lemon Creative and Loris Clements. We’re delighted now to be working with Haptic, who throughout the selection process impressed us with their interpretation of that vision and the new ideas they brought with them.

‘The development of a new museum on the Hornby site, where the stars of the show are not models, but the real thing – full-size, original locomotives and rolling stock along with other rail and transport vehicles and memorabilia – has the potential to become a collection of national importance, right here in Thanet.

‘We look forward to working closely with Thanet District Council to satisfy planning requirements, but with the support of the experienced team at Haptic, we believe this will be an exciting development for Margate.’

The company has already won planning permission for a new vehicle entrance to the building.

Haptic Architects director Scott Grady said: ‘The One:One Collection is a truly exciting opportunity for our practice; developing a new museum for a unique and awe-inspiring collection of locomotives.

‘The scale and beauty of these engineering marvels cannot help but inspire our design process throughout the coming months. We’re delighted to be working with the Locomotive Storage Company and wider design team on the project.’

The site was sold to Locomotive Storage for £2.25 million in 2017 after Hornby moved to Canterbury. The Hornby visitor centre is set to remain on the site. Nearby projects by the practice include the Archive Homestore and Kitchen in Ramsgate.

One Billion Journeys installation by Haptic

One Billion Journeys installation by Haptic

One Billion Journeys installation by Haptic

Haptic Architects has also created a travelling exhibition featuring candid photographs of railway passengers across China by Wang Fuchun, with graphics by BOB Design. The One Billion Journeys installation for The Science Museum Group will be at Locomotion, Shildon in County Durham until 17 March before transferring to Bradford, then Manchester and finally the Science Museum in London. The 45 photos span from 1963 – when Wang Fuchun was accepted into the Suihua Railway’s Train Driver Training School – to the present day, reflecting rapid changes in Chinese society and wealth.

Agnieszka Glowacka, senior designer at Haptic Architects, said: ’The exhibition concept is derived from the notion of a shared journey on a train. Few places bring varieties of people together, but both a train journey and an exhibition allow for familiar experiences between totally separate individuals.

‘As the exhibition will travel over a period of two years, it needed to be designed to suit a number of different spaces with varying constraints. We quickly realised that ease of assembly and disassembly, as well as flexibility, would be key in ensuring that visitors from across the country will be able to enjoy Wang Fuchun’s work.’

Glowacka continued: ’We worked closely with the client and curator to understand the different themes in the work and the artist’s ambitions for the exhibition. We subsequently created three different module types, which are clustered together in different ways to display the work from one of the five themes of Wang Fuchun’s photographs.

‘The modules are inspired by the language of the train, and are based on the train booth, cabin and corridor, and can be flexibly assembled to suit the different sites. The lighting, photography, film and captions are all integrated into the modules, helping to create an immersive and intimate experience. Visitors weave in and out of these modules taking their own journey of Wang Fuchun’s photography. The modules provide places to pause, wait and reflect, intimate spaces to meet and talk; as well as glimpses into other spaces.’

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