New Shetland Museum and Archives

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New Shetland Museum and Archives
The World Architecture Festival Award New Shetland Museum and Archives Preserving Shetland’s History and Regenerating Lerwick’s Historic Waterfront Description of the project The New Shetland Museum and Archives was planned to relocate and integrate the current Shetland Museum and the Islands Archives to form the focal point - or heritage hub - for the wide historic and cultural services throughout the Islands provided by the Shetland Amenity Trust. This unique integration of museum and archives functions – almost unprecedented in the UK - is designed to maximise the synergy between the two functions and lies at the very heart of the Client Brief. The project is located in the centre of Lerwick within the Category B Listed Hays Dock*, built in the early 19th Century at the height of the Herring Boom and comprises slipways, boat-building sheds and finger pier. This well preserved, original assemblage is the last remaining harbour of this period in Shetland, its intimate scale being a major driver in the development of the design of the New Museum. Unfortunately, in line with many waterfront areas in the UK, it and its surroundings have become largely derelict and run down over the past decades. The Museum is designed to display 3,000 unique artefacts from the Islands’ extensive Collection which ranges from the world famous Shetland textiles to the rich Pictish and Viking archaeological finds. The Archives facility is designed to house the written records of Shetland’s past - dating from the 15th Century onward - and the fourth largest collection of archive photography in Scotland. It provides the best up-to-date storage and preservation features available, the repository conforming 100% with BS5454:2000. It is one of the few buildings in the UK which does so. The central core of the new building contains the Display Galleries at ground and first floor levels, orientated north to maximise natural light and the views over Hays Dock – a dedicated Temporary Exhibition Area is located behind this and adjacent to the Foyer. On the upper levels - at the heart of the building - lies the Archives Repository and associated public Search Room facilities with staff accommodation is located above this. To the extreme east, at ground level the building houses a 120 seat flexible Lecture Theatre with full cinematic projection capabilities, above which is a 60 seat Restaurant and kitchen with external sheltered terrace and panoramic sea views. On its western extremity sits a triple-height Boat Hall providing accommodation for Shetland's outstanding collection of historic boats including the last surviving sixareen - recognised as the ultimate development of the traditional Shetland boat and a direct decendant of the Viking Longship. Five other boats are suspended within the Boat Hall's timber clad and naturally lit volume. The driving force of the building’s external design was to reinterpret the 'Lodberries', the indigenous Shetland domestic structures built with their gables in the sea. The building is, appropriately, constructed of traditional materials - comprising harled masonry walls, slated pitched roofs and timber windows - in recognition not only of tradition but of available construction skills and proven resilience to the extreme maritime climate in this the most exposed location in the UK. Contrasting with traditional forms, the building’ presence is punctuated by the iconic form of the timber clad Boat Hall, whose sloping walls have been conceived as large, abstract sails - separated by tall, narrow, vertical glazing strips – echoing, in colour and form, the sails of the Herring drifters which were built in the adjoining 19th Century boatsheds and which, in their hundreds, wintered in and around Hays Dock in the last century. The New Museum and Archives is already having a tangible regenerative effect on the surrounding area. Hitherto a rundown derelict backwater, land transfers and the planned Shetland Cinema and Music Venue are already seeing the area becoming transformed. Summary We believe the New Shetland Museum and Archives is an ideal candidate for recognitions in the WFA Awards for the following reasons. The building is eminently fit for purpose having been designed to a carefully honed Client Brief, meeting full National Museums Standards and uniquely achieving full compliance with with BS5454:2000 - one of the few buildings in the UK which does so. In terms of originality the modern interpretations of traditions indigenous structures merged with the iconic 4 storey high timber-clad Boat hall has resulted in something unmatched anywhere, and yet is grounded in Shetland and it’s unique relationship with the sea. The community benefit of the project has become increasingly apparent in the year since its opening – visitors numbers to the museum and archives have risen tenfold, the restaurant has become the destination restaurant in Lerwick and the Lifelong Learning Suite and Temporary Exhibition space are used to maximum capacity. Efficient design, building form, careful detailing and high insulation have resulted in lower life cycle costs being projected than those anticipated at design stage. The adoption of traditional specification and detailing has enabled the maximum deployment of highly skilled local labour in constructing what is a very specialised and technically advance building. Without this, a local Main Contractor could not have tendered and successfully completed the project to such high quality. Similarly, without Partnering, Teamwork and shared Innovation, such a major construction exercised - involving Local contractor and Consultant Team separated by 400 miles - could not have been achieved in such a remote location on time and within the budget of £12M *restoration by NGRA AGKerr BDP 17 June 2008

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