A new two-storey gallery extension to the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.

A new two-storey gallery extension to the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.

In 2016, Ferguson Mann Architects began work on an extension to the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon. The existing museum sits at a fantastic riverside location, within a prominent public square close to Barnstaple’s historic centre. The proposed extension is on a constrained and sensitive site, between the existing museum (Grade II Listed) and the Long Bridge (Grade I Listed), which spans over the River Taw. Development of the extension’s form had to be carefully determined through iterative studies, responding both to the historic locality and wider context and sightlines.

The two-storey brick extension is intentionally simple in form, with a hipped roof designed so that it is visually cohesive with the existing building. The use of brick and copper as the primary building materials references the significant historic manufacturing industries of Barnstaple which the museum will showcase in its exhibits. Copper clad bays recall the locally crafted Shapland & Petter furniture, whilst the brick choice and extension form is in response to Bridge End House, which occupied the site until it was demolished in the 1960s. Windows are carefully positioned to control the amount of light that exhibits are exposed to, whilst offering fantastic views of the estuary.

The extension provides new gallery space, showcasing the museum’s large social history collection and enabling the museum to host temporary exhibits borrowed from other collections. As well as the gallery, the extension includes a new education room, archaeological store and work rooms, entrance area and shop, and a new lift (providing level access throughout the new wing and existing museum). Construction on the extension started in the summer of 2018 and is due to complete in mid-2019.