Planning underway for Atkins-designed Plymouth History Centre

Atkins’ designs for a new state-of-the-art History Centre in Plymouth have been submitted for planning.

The spectacular £34 million facility will transform the city’s current Museum and Art Gallery, Central Library and adjacent St Luke’s Church into a cutting-edge, interactive cultural and heritage centre.  Scheduled to open in spring 2020 – as part of  the 400th anniversary celebrations of the Mayflower  setting sail from Plymouth to America – the  History Centre will provide a new home for the city’s fascinating and vast historic collections.

James Harrison, Atkins’ design director for the project, said:

“Our architects and heritage experts want to retain the history of the buildings while adding a modern twist. Our designs will help celebrate the past and engage a 21st century audience.”

Plymouth Council leader Tudor Evans said:

“The concepts look incredibly exciting. They’ve come up with a really striking building and some of the interior spaces will be jaw-dropping.”

Atkins’ designs feature a cantilevered ‘floating’ box above the heart of the Centre. This contains the museum’s historic archive, clad in four finishes of panel – from reflective panels to photochromatic finish – subtly mixed and graded over the elevations to represent pages telling the many stories the archive holds.

“Throughout the design process we’ve been sensitive to the existing listed buildings,” said James. “Our goal was to ensure we showed respect for our past without needlessly restraining our future.”

Atkins’ registered conservation architects have prepared the Conservation Management Plan for the Centre, fully integrating this with the collection’s existing plan. Working with exhibition designers, Atkins will help convert the existing buildings into interactive and fun exhibition spaces including a giant mammoth, a flotilla of historic ships, massive original figureheads and interactive maps that visitors can walk through.

On completion, the Centre will have a total of 3,500 square metres of gallery and exhibition space, including seven large-scale permanent galleries, five spaces for local and national touring exhibitions and specific artistic projects, as well as a reading room, a huge public archive area, a shop, a café and learning spaces.

Atkins’ urban designers, landscape engineers and highway engineers are also designing a new pedestrianised public piazza which will provide additional space for events and street entertainment and high quality food outlets.

The planning application for Plymouth History Centre will be considered in June this year. Subject to permission, work on the Centre will start early in 2017.