Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre
Still waters run deep. A calm exterior shelters a diverse ecosystem of people.
A state of the art collections and conservation centre home to scientists, artists, crafters, photographers, researchers and archivists. Together, they care for the world’s largest maritime collection.
The Royal Museums Greenwich Collections and Conservation function was spread over five locations. This presented many logistical difficulties when transporting collections for storage, conservation, photography and exhibition. The conservation studio was in a Victorian school building which, although architecturally beautiful, did not provide the environment required to best deliver treatment.
At the start of the project, the brief focussed on bringing the museum’s departments together in a building fit-for-purpose. However, it quickly became clear that this wasn’t just about proximity or efficiency but about bringing everyone closer as a team.
Because of the bespoke nature of this project, museum stakeholder engagement meetings were organised and weekly progress reports provided to engage museum staff in the design process.
The sessions helped us to understand the processes and workflows of each department and enabled us to design a well-informed, functional scheme.
The building simplifies the logistical process of an object’s journey from arrival, through to conservation, photography, display or storage. Doors, windows, corridors and services are all sized to allow the massive objects and artefacts easy passage through all departments.
The individual requirements of each department have been considered; temperature, light, extraction, furniture, staff capacity. And those departments with similar needs have been grouped together.
So many of the museum’s objects are mixed media with their conservation treatments raising questions of science, art, craft and ethics. So communication between all departments is crucial.
Open plan offices and accessible studios lend themselves to collaboration. Teams are able to communicate face-to-face, making decisions faster and work more efficient.
To encourage more inter-staff interactions outside of work we put all social spaces in the middle of the plan, added huge windows and some colour. The general aesthetic of the building is paired back. However, it was important that the social spaces felt less industrial and more relaxed.
Ancillary to its principal role as a collections and conservation facility, the client wanted the building to be a publicly-accessible site. Dedicated learning spaces allow the museum to share their knowledge and experience with the public – creating a centre of excellence for the museum’s conservation work.
Stride Treglown has designed fully functioning and welcoming conservation studios that will enable us to work in an efficient and effective way. They included us from the very beginning in the design process and listened to our feedback. The result is a well-designed centre and we can’t wait to take conservation at the National Maritime Museum to new heights.
Birthe Christensen, Former Head of Conservation & Preservation
After we completed the building, the museum held one of their biggest exhibits to date titled Endeavour. Encouragingly the feedback from staff indicated that the new building helped them work together in a far more coordinated and holistic way. It’s great to know that our design is helping an institution like the National Maritime Museum continue its impressive work
Josh Blackledge, Project Architect