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Tate Harmer wins Brunel Museum contest

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Tate Harmer has won a competition for a major revamp and expansion of The Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe, south-east London

The Dalston-based practice, working with conservation architect Purcell, defeated an undisclosed shortlist of rival teams to win the commission to upgrade the museum, which is based inside the southern part of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s 1843 Thames Tunnel.

The appointment comes four years after Tate Harmer created a new performance space inside the museum’s Grade II*-listed ‘Sinking Shaft’ – reopening the pioneering tunnel’s entrance hall to the public for the first time in 150 years.

The Thames Tunnel was built between 1825 and 1843 to connect Rotherhithe on the south side of the river with Wapping in the north. The subterranean link was originally intended for horse-drawn carriages but later became a tourist attraction and is now part of the London Underground.

The Brunel Museum Reinvented project will transform the historic complex into a ‘welcoming and inclusive visitor attraction and cultural destination’. The scheme will create a new entrance pavilion with a café and shop while also transforming the Grade II*-listed Engine House into a new interpretation, exhibition, research and archive space.

Jerry Tate, partner at Tate Harmer, said: ‘The Brunel Museum is an unusual mix of powerful industrial heritage surrounded by an unexpectedly verdant and compelling landscape on the end of the Thames Tunnel.

‘The project will build on this as a character for development, using this rich palette to create a unique and coherent visitor experience. When completed, the project will cement the museum’s position as a key cultural heritage project for Southwark and south London, as well as a fantastic learning and engagement resource and community space for Rotherhithe.’

Dana Skelley, chair of trustees at the museum, said: ‘We are very excited to be working with Tate Harmer, Purcell and their design team on this transformation of our museum. The team combines an outstanding knowledge of the site and unparalleled heritage expertise for a site that remains deeply symbolic of past, as well as future, engineering endeavour.’

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