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ZMMA lands Guildford Castle overhaul

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ZMMA has been awarded a publicly tendered contract worth £250,000 to regenerate Guildford’s Grade I-listed castle and museum

The London-based studio defeated an unnamed shortlist to win the project, which will deliver a new ‘hub’ building linking the historic keep to the town’s nearby museum and surrounding gardens.

The scheme for Guildford Borough Council will reconfigure and expand the existing museum – providing improved public facilities, a new entrance, learning area, café, shop and a temporary exhibition space.

The announcement comes shortly after ZMMA was chosen to design the V&A Dundee’s centrepiece Scottish Design Galleries.

ZMMA principal Adam Zombory-Moldovan said: ‘We are delighted to have been appointed by Guildford Borough Council to design this transformation to the museum and to the castle site to create a lively and inspiring heritage quarter in the town.

‘This is a great opportunity to re-present and revitalise the castle’s history, the museum’s collection and to set this in the broader context of Guildford’s ambitious town centre plan and its vibrant technology-based economy.’

Lead councillor for heritage and the arts Nikki Nelson-Smith commented: ‘We are planning an exciting new phase for our museum to bring it into the 21st century, make it an important tourist attraction for the town and a place that local people can be proud of.

‘Although in its early stages, this is a fantastic opportunity to work with our partners to develop the museum into a heritage hub and tourist destination and preserve our heritage for the future.’

Built shortly after the 1066 Norman invasion, the ruined motte and bailey castle was originally a royal residence but was later used as a jail and then transformed into pleasure gardens in 1888.

Today the castle and museum receive only around 15,000 visitors and 13,000 visitors a year respectively despite almost half a million people annually entering the surrounding grounds.

Poor physical access, outdated facilities, a small exhibition space and displays which are ‘tired and need updating’ are all blamed for the low numbers.

The project aims to conserve the existing structures, create a new visitor attraction for the town and deliver ‘imaginative, functional, flexible and attractive’ exhibition spaces. A new circular route between the museum and castle will also be delivered.

Allies and Morrison drafted a new masterplan for Guildford town centre – recommending new retail frontages and the removal of a gyratory – two years ago. ZMMA will first develop a feasibility study for the project which will be presented to the council’s executive for consideration in the spring.

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