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John McAslan’s British Museum collections store gets the OK

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John McAslan + Partners is to create a new home for the British Museum’s historic collections after receiving approval for its proposed scheme in Berkshire

The practice won planning consent from Wokingham Borough Council for the 15,628m² research and storage building.

Construction will begin this year on a plot next to Thames Valley Science Park close to the M4 in Shinfield.

Two homes will be demolished to make way for the scheme, which also has outline planning permission to double the size of the storage building in due course.

Ancient sculptures, mosaics, archaeological assemblages and historic cast collections will be housed in the single-storey facility, to be known as the British Museum Archaeological Research Collection.

Three connected blocks will provide custom-designed space for conservation work and to give researchers access to the objects.

Local schools, museums, heritage organisations and the public will be able to gain access to the collections by appointment. The facility will have a capacity of 98, comprising 48 staff, including three permanent security officers, and up to 50 visitors.

The building will also house study facilities and a logistics centre to facilitate loans of objects to local, national and international venues.

John McAslan + Partners said in planning documents: ‘The design proposal consists of three connected blocks that slip beside each other to break down the scale and mass of the scheme, as well as helping to articulate the building and create opportunities for access and views.

‘While connected, the three blocks express themselves individually because of the partially glazed links that join them. The links between the three blocks serve two primary functions. Externally, they break down the mass of the building, helping to articulate the architectural concept. Internally, they are the primary circulation route. The resultant architecture creates a series of exciting spaces that will facilitate and enhance the specialist processes accommodated within the building.’

A courtyard will provide natural light and views to woodland.

British Museum project director Tony Wilson said: ‘The Museum is excited about the prospect of its new collection storage and research facility being based in Wokingham, and we are very much looking forward to the next stage of the project.’

The institution’s existing storage facility in London is due to close in 2023.

John McAslan + Partners' British Museum Archaeological Research Collection courtyard

John McAslan + Partners’ British Museum Archaeological Research Collection courtyard

Project data

Client British Museum
Project Manager Equals Consulting
Architect John McAslan + Partners
Landscape architect John McAslan + Partners
Structural and civil engineer Mott MacDonald
Services engineer Mott MacDonald
Archaeological desk top study Mott MacDonald
Quantity surveyor Gardiner & Theobald
Planning consultation Barton Willmore
Ecologist Ecological Research
Transport Engineer Abley Letchford Partnership

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