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Royal Engineers’ Museum, Chatham

Part 1 Project 2011
Lauren Walker
University of Kent, UK
The project is a new, relocated Museum to house the collections of the Royal Engineers in Chatham, Kent. The town itself has suffered economic decline, and in an attempt to actively repair the urban fabric of the area, the Museum is designed to be at the forefront of a much broader regeneration scheme that hopes to encourage new visitors, better the economy and restore community worth to Chatham.

Through thorough analysis of the site, as well as opting to extend the initial brief to include an Arts Centre Regeneration Programme that forges links with an existing Nucleus Arts Centre on the High Street adjacent to the site, the scheme aims to not only become a community Museum, but further, form part of the existing urban footprint and extend itself to the community.

The curved walls, cor-ten steel façade and stepped form of the Museum is directly responsive to the surrounding, sloping site, with the needs of the user anchoring and driving the design. An external public space forms one of the central design ideas, and has been refined throughout the project to ensure its success as a central hub of the town; linking the site with adjoining routes and drawing visitors up and into the space, and into the Museum.

The Museum itself is designed to investigate war, and what it really means to be at war. Having noted what one felt was missing from existing war museums, the design explores the idea of creating spaces that encourage one to feel the impacts of war, as opposed to merely viewing the artefacts of war. One has experimented with the manipulation of space to create numerous ‘sensory exhibits’ which punctuate a carefully designed exhibition route, with the overall aim being to provide visitors with a fuller war-time experience and deeper understanding of the impacts of war.¬¬¬

Lauren Walker


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