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Studio Egret West reveals Horniman Museum masterplan

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Initial proposals by Studio Egret West to re-masterplan The Horniman Museum’s 6.5ha home in south-east London have been revealed

Visitors to the historic museum are being invited to share feedback on concept plans for the Grade II*-listed Arts and Crafts building and its surrounding gardens.

Studio Egret West’s proposals include replacing Horniman’s Architype-designed 1995 Centre for Understanding the Environment (CUE) building – which the museum argues has now ‘exceeded its design life of 20 years’ – with a new gallery square, subterranean education space, and shop.

Other interventions will reconfigure the museum interior and create a new, enlarged foyer, deliver a new centralised and dedicated office space for staff, and create a café kiosk and bridge connecting the park to a nearby nature trail.

The practice – working with tourist attraction specialists Fourth Street and Expedition Engineering– defeated an undisclosed shortlist to win the estimated £20,000 contract backed by the Horniman Public Museum and Public Park Trust.

The appointment in January came less than two months after the trust drastically reduced the professional indemnity insurance (PII) limitation on bidders from £10 million to £1 million, saying the original figure had been a mistake.

The move followed criticism from architects that the onerous and unnecessary requirements would effectively prohibit small practices from applying for the work.

The re-masterplanning project is intended to reduce congestion in the entrance area, improve accessibility and legibility for visitors, and set out a range of options for the museum’s study collections centre.

Named after its founder, English tea trader Frederick John Horniman, the museum occupies a hilltop site in south-east London. Displays include musical instruments and artefacts relating to anthropology and natural history.

The Horniman’s main building, designed by Charles Harrison Townsend, opened in 1901 and an extension was completed 10 years later by the same architect. Architype created the CUE building in 1995, Allies and Morrison expanded the museum in 2002, and Walters & Cohen completed a £2.3 million garden pavilion in 2012.

Last summer, MICA Architects and Ralph Appelbaum Associates unwrapped a £1 million refurbishment of the museum’s South Hall Gallery.

The latest project follows the appointment of a new museum chief executive, Nick Merriman, and is part of plans to diversify audiences, enhance the venue’s social impact, improve collections and build a more sustainable economic foundation for the enterprise.

Consultation on the Studio Egret West plans closes on 22 July.

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