Architects often face a conundrum, of mixing the old with the new, when asked to add extensions to old buildings. The United Kingdom is notorious for insisting on new additions being in the style of listed buildings. This being the usual case, we are fortunate that the scheme from Hugh Broughton Architects was selected for a new wing at the Maidstone Museum and Bentlif Art Gallery.
The museum is situated in Kent and holds one of the largest mixed collections in the South-East of England. It is quite apt then that the new east wing is such a departure from the original Tudor manor house dating from 1561. The design is in keeping with the many eclectic additions the museum has had since being established. Central to the design of the wing is cladding of golden copper-alloy shingles, making the addition seem like a jewel box for the collection it contains. The shingles reflect the diamond leaded glass windows of the old museum and contrast with its horizontal brick facade. The shingle façade is interspersed with glazing, creating a visual connection with the gardens behind and Maidstone’s high street. Not only has the new wing provided more space in the museum to display more of its collection, but it has also helped it once again become the cultural center of the town. A new multi-functional educational space was created for use by community groups and schools.
The east wing is not only a beautiful addition to this prestigious museum, but it is testament to the importance of melding contemporary architecture with historical building which function well today, instead of just trying to imitate the past in the name of preservation. Images here are from Hufton+Crow.