The Brunel Museum Reinvented Project
The Brunel Museum Reinvented project will make vital improvements to a site of international heritage significance with its strong associations with Marc Brunel and his son Isambard Brunel. This project will conserve the historic building, improve visitor facilities and provide a home for the recently acquired collection of Marc Brunel’s beautiful Thames Tunnel watercolour designs. We will also be able to offer a wider range of events and activities for people.
We have received development funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other generous funders to transform the museum.
March 2021 Update
The latest phase of The Brunel Museum Reinvented project has been submitted for planning, which will transform the visitor and heritage experience of the museum in Rotherhithe. The new proposals outline a welcoming and inclusive visitor attraction and cultural destination, while also providing a home for the collection of Thames Tunnel drawings and watercolours.
We have refined our proposals and submitted these plans for Planning and Scheduled Monument consent, after consulting with many local organisations and holding a well-attended an open day last September.
Our plans are to retain the Tunnel Shaft Garden and the adjacent ‘Piazza’ as an open space for community activities. Adjacent to the Tunnel Shaft entrance, to the south, we will create a new Pavilion to welcome our visitors and provide modern and sustainable facilities for visitors and staff. Additional planting will be created to add to the ecology, maintaining the biodiversity of the area.
The refurbished Engine House will provide new displays and interpretation, giving the incredible Thames Tunnel Archive drawings a permanent home and offering our visitors stories of the site and the Brunel’s, in engaging contemporary ways.
Below are some of the ways we responded to your feedback:
Scope of Project & Future Plans
We reviewed the scope of the project, should anything be postponed for future or any future projects included. Alternatively should we consider more temporary, or limited solutions for some things.
This led to us to obtain alternative funding to improve the lighting and heating in the Tunnel Shaft. We also found financial support to carry out more immediate repairs to the Engine House.
Consider provision and location of café.
After considering the café provision it was decided to remove the café from our current plans and test the provision of one on the northern Piazza. We also investigated the future plans for Simplicity.
Consider Pavilion Size
We fully reviewed our storage needs, toilet provision and ways of maximising the opportunities for flexible spaces across the whole site. This lead to us reducing the pavilion size and increase flexible space in the buildings.
Consider Pavilion Location.
We considered a whole range of issues and options for the location of the pavilion as well as revisiting previous ideas. The conclusion was that the proposed location was the best especially after the removal of the café.
Considered form and aesthetic of Pavilion
We looked at the shape and form of the building and how best to minimise impact. We commissioned a set of rectified views to help with this. The result was a change in the shape of the building, creating a more sculpted shape that fitted the space better and maximised views of the historic buildings from key points. We also considered the palette of materials to be used.
Ecology and Stainability Review.
We commissioned an ecology study and a sustainability review which will continue to helped when we develop the project further. We are looking at how to include the use of more sustainable materials like timber and less use of concrete/steel. We are also looking how can further enhance the site, and project in small ways to improve the biodiversity increase reuse of materials and minimise waste etc.
October 2020 Update
Our community consultation, on September 19th, as part of Open House weekend was a great success with over 200 people attending. Members of our project team were on hand to explain proposals so far. We plan to house new facilities in a small welcome building, new interpretation and exhibitions across the site and a home for the amazing Thames Tunnel Archive. This will create a more consistent and engaging visitor experience and allow the museum to host a wider range of activities and events in the Engine House, Tunnel Shaft and on our Piazza to the north.
The project team have produced a Conservation Plan for the site which has pulled together existing information on site history, new maps and illustrations of the buildings and examines the numerous architectural features that provide clues to the site’s many alterations and amendments. We also want to shout out to our volunteer Maribeth to whom we are immensely grateful for writing our Archives Conservation Plan.
The community consultation and Conservation Plan as well as wider discussions with local organisations and businesses are helping us refine and develop our proposals. The next stage is to take these proposals to the local planners and Historic England before our submission, next spring, to the Heritage Fund for the money to allow us to make these plans a reality.
We spent the morning at Surrey Quays shopping centre on Thursday 22nd October, asking shoppers what they knew about the museum and what activities they would like us to put on there. We had lots of visitors to our popup stall and it was great to hear that half of the people we spoke to already knew about the museum. The comments we received are feeding into the development plans for the Heritage Fund project. (Picture shows Clara and Jessie with our stall.)
Survey Closed – 512 responses received
Our Survey Monkey survey has now closed with 512 responses received. Thanks to all those who took the time to complete a survey and the 40+ stakeholders that we have spoken to. We’ve now got lots of useful data which will directly help us shape the experience at a reinvented Brunel Museum.