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Gloucestershire architect in line for an award for garden transformation

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Written by: Olivia Alexandra Scull | Posted 05 December 2018 15:45

Gloucestershire architect in line for an award for garden transformation

Gloucestershire architect in line for an award for garden transformation


A pavilion at the centre of a Gloucestershire architects’ vision to transform a derelict

museum garden has been shortlisted for a Civic Trust Award.


Museum in the Park’s pavilion and walled garden has made the regional finals of the competition thanks to an innovative scheme by Austin Design Works (ADW).


Matthew Austin, Director at the Nailsworth practice, was lead consultant on the innovative project, while his fellow Director Rachael Emous-Austin transformed the overgrown garden in Stroud into a vibrant landscape and outdoor learning space.


For 50 years, the museum’s plot had been used as a dumping ground with towering brambles and self-seeded saplings.


The brief was to create an organic building and garden at the 17th century clothiers’ house to help visitors explore further the museum’s artefacts and host school and community events.


The ADW team used copper and timber cladding and glass to connect the pavilion to the outdoor space, and designed window seats and roof lights to make the most of the space for teaching, activities, craft and play.


More than 2,000 schoolchildren use the museum’s facilities every year, plus another 1,500 learners, and Rachael is thrilled the project is a 2019 Regional Finalist. Director Rachael said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have made the regional shortlist.


“Particularly when you see some of the projects we’re up against, some of whom were on the RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist, like Tate St Ives.


“What’s really wonderful is that we seem to be enriching people’s experience of the pavilion and garden and it’s increased footfall to the museum.


“We’ve improved the space and created something that’s really attractive, and it’s bringing people in. It’s totally accessible and totally functional.”


The £480,000 project was not without its challenges. When ADW took on the scheme, the pavilion had attracted funding but the recommended Entrance Way, connecting the building with the museum’s reception, had not.


Rachael drew sketches, showing how the zones and levels would work, creating a journey through the space - and funding was granted.


Two years later, the building sits in a blossoming garden complete with an orchard, potting shed, raised planters and a wild flower meadow.


Chestnut and copper-clad benches follow a winding pathway to form a seated amphitheatre in the corner, which is used by groups for outdoor learning and relaxing, and there are limestone features and bronze Pangolin statues. The planting tells the story of Stroud’s textile industry.


Rachael made illustrated books of planting and landscaping techniques to help museum volunteers transform the area themselves. She said: “It was very much a community project.


“It was really interesting to watch the partnership and guide the client on the journey. It’s been a real team effort, totally collaborative, where we’ve had to take into account everyone’s views.


“It’s one of our strengths as a practice that we can offer award-winning architecture alongside exceptional garden design.”


Kevin Ward, Museum Development Manager, said: “It’s a great achievement and recognises the hard work of many people.”


Criteria for the Awards, launched in 1959, are stringent. The Walled Garden is one of 147 projects out of 240 nationally selected for the next round of judging.


Not only were judges looking for outstanding architecture, they demanded strong sustainability credentials; accessible and universal design; evidence of a positive community contribution; sensitive conservation and restoration and designing in context.


Other projects on the regional shortlist include the Royal Academy of Music in London; Waterfall House at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital and the Chocolate Factory in Bristol.


The national Civic Trust Awards shortlist is announced in December, with winners revealed in March at the Imperial War Museum.


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