The scheme will transform Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, allowing for improved access and enhanced opportunities for the display of its locally, regionally, nationally and internationally important art and heritage collections. It will also enable the Art Gallery & Museum to become a major venue for national and international touring exhibitions.
A Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Open Design Competition was launched during 2007 to procure an architect / design for the proposed new extension. 77 entries were received from all over the world, and, following two stages of public consultation, short listing and views from an expert Advisory Panel, Berman Guedes Stretton (an Oxford / London based practise) were appointed.
Throughout the design process consultation meetings have been held with the public, outside interest groups, local planning / Heritage & Conservation Officers, English Heritage and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (South West).
The winning design was driven by a need to create a more prominent entrance and opens up the ground floor from front to rear with a new link between Clarence Street and Chester Walk. The ground floor will include a café, shop, reception area, education facilities and the re-location of Cheltenham’s Tourist Information Centre. At the top of the building, a roof-top terrace will provide a view of the church and the surrounding area.
Located within a conservation area, Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum’s site encompasses three centuries of architecture, yet Berman Guedes Stretton’s elegant vision manages to remain sensitive to the original structure of the site – without compromising its sleek 21st-century design. The plans show a clear visual relationship between old and new, by linking the Regency terrace on one side and the 1989 extension and existing 19th-century building on the other. The scheme was granted full planning consent in July 2009, and Listed Building / Conservation Area consent was approved in August 2009.
“The scheme has received credit for its sensitive integration into a historical context, along with its eco-friendly design”.
Energy efficiency is a key aspect of the design and a high performance glazing system on each floor affords natural light and allows passers-by to see in. The south façade’s louvered screen will control solar gain. The new building will use both passive and active features, including construction from natural and reclaimed materials, natural ventilation, and the installation of high efficiency condensing boilers (running at low temperatures) – the whole scheme will also go through a BREEAM assessment.
Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum has always brought a wide range of benefits to people visiting the museum – including out beyond the building – through its activities, projects and events. The current site however, is compromised by difficult access to its main collections, and by limited temporary exhibition, storage and other public spaces. The aim is to address these long-standing constraints through the redevelopment of the site – which will allow improved access to, and increased opportunities for the interpretation and use of the collections – a place where everyone is welcome. An integral part of this planning process, has been the aspiration that the Art Gallery & Museum can become the central focus to a developing ‘cultural quarter’ within the town of Cheltenham – somewhere for local people and visitors to celebrate, explore and discover Cheltenham’s history, but also a place where you can experience a national / international touring show or see / buy work from local craftspeople and artists.
There are many ways you can help Building for a New future, including making a donation or providing corporate support. Donations large and small will help fund work from gallery refurbishments to creating community exhibition spaces, and dedicated areas for young people to perform and exhibit / display their work.