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John Puttick scoops £2.2m Watford Museum revamp

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John Puttick Associates has won the contract for a £2.2 million regeneration of Grade II-listed Watford Museum in Hertfordshire

The emerging practice, which recently relocated from New York to Vauxhall in south London, topped an undisclosed shortlist to win the estimated £60,000 contract from Watford Borough Council.

It will now draw up plans for a major overhaul of the local history museum, which occupies a former Georgian townhouse on Lower High Street near Watford town centre.

The Making Connections project will refurbish the landmark building; improve displays, storage and accessibility; and deliver a modern extension. It is set to complete in 2019. 

The appointment comes three years after John Puttick Associates won a high-profile contest to design a ‘youth zone’ at Grade II-listed Preston Bus Station – a project that is now almost complete. Other recent wins have included another new youth zone in Croydon.

Watford Council’s cabinet member for community Karen Collett said: ‘Our museum is a much-loved community hub, but our building needs caring for and we want to be able to tell the story of our town in an engaging and accessible way for all of our visitors, to inspire pride and identity in our town. We are really looking forward to John Puttick’s expertise in capturing our vision.’

John Puttick said: ‘We are excited to work on a building that is very much about the enjoyment of public spaces. It is also a real privilege to work on such an important cultural project in Watford. Local museums are particularly interesting projects as they build on the heritage of a particular place and its people. Architecturally they are very much about identity and civic pride.’

The Grade II-listed mansion was built in 1775, and later became part of a brewery before being transformed into offices. It was converted into Watford Museum in 1981.

The museum holds around 30,000 items in its collection, covering local history, archaeology, art, and costume from pre-historic times to the present day. Since opening, the museum has been fitted with new alarms and CCTV, but has yet to receive a major overhaul, with many displays still in their original form.

The latest project will transform the building into an ‘engaging heritage hub for the local community’ featuring new displays and events facilities as well as a learning area for schools and new visitor facilities.

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