Wilkinson Eyre on the Architecture Ramp
Until 13 November 2006
In the Architecture Space
Chris Wilkinson, the most recently elected Royal Academician architect, and twice-winner of the Stirling Prize, transforms the ‘Architecture on the Ramp’ space by exploring the evolution of buildings from conception to development on site.
About Wilkinson Eyre
Wilkinson Eyre Architects is one of the UK’s leading architectural practices, with a portfolio of national and international award-winning, highly site-specific projects. The practice has designed highly successful projects in diverse market sectors including transport, the arts, commercial, infrastructure, masterplanning, bridge design, industrial, office, retail, leisure, educational, cultural and residential buildings as well as component and systems design.
Floral Street Bridge by Wilkinson Eyre Architects
The designs of Wilkinson Eyre Architects are widely recognised and have received extensive media, public and professional acclaim and numerous awards including, uniquely, the RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture in two consecutive years - for the Magna Project in 2001 and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in 2002. The three projects currently featured in 'Architecture on the Ramp' tell a story about how Wilkinson Eyre make buildings. The Mary Rose Museum is at a very early stage and only tells the first part of the story. King’s Waterfront in Liverpool, under construction, takes the story forward while the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea concludes it with a completed building.
Mary Rose Museum
As an object of beauty and mystery, the Mary Rose Museum will be a new destination within Portsmouth’s historic dockyard. It will permanently house the hull of Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose, which was raised from the seabed of The Solent in 1982, and a vast collection of original artefacts recovered from the site. At the heart of the design is the idea of specificity – both in the creation of an installation reflective of context and content, and the complex environmental conditions in which the ship and its unique legacy will be preserved. The design takes an ‘inside-out’ approach, cradling the hull at the centre of the museum, and creating a virtual glass hull alongside it to represent the missing section, within which the artefacts will be displayed in context on deck-level galleries. Our intention is to enclose these treasures in a building of minimal volume – a discreet and understated ‘jewellery box’ which will establish a respectful dialogue with the HMS Victory nearby. The elegant, elliptical form will be clad in carvel timber planking to reflect the vernacular maritime architecture of England’s south coast, and ornamented with inscriptions drawn from the carved ciphers used by the crew of the Mary Rose to identify their personal belongings. The museum will be roofed by a lustrous grey shell structure, that will be prefabricated and – as seen in the model exhibited here – lifted into place over the existing ship hall.
Liverpool Kings Waterfront
Liverpool’s Kings Waterfront is a historic area of abandoned dockyards on the River Mersey, recently listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for their role in the city’s mercantile past. The complex of new civic facilities will bring life back to the waterfront, reconnecting recently regenerated parts of the city with the river, which will once again become part of the urban narrative. The architecture expresses the development’s varied functions (multipurpose arena, conference centre, exhibition facility and galleria) as a series of unified forms that relate to their neighbours on the Mersey’s famous skyline. These are wrapped in a tight ‘skin’ of cladding, the form of each element reflecting its individual function. The elements are locked into the urban grain by a series of exciting new public spaces rich in art and activity. The design has been carefully sculpted from the earliest stages using techniques inspired by the discipline of product design. On the Ramp these are illustrated as we follow the building from conceptual sketch to three-dimensional computer renders, and finally to highly complex construction drawings. The distinctive form of the building acts as a strong visual signal, drawing visitors towards this new destination – which will be an important focus for Liverpool’s celebrations as European Capital of Culture in 2008.
Kings Waterfront Liverpool by Wilkinson Eyre Architects
National Waterfront Museum Swansea
The National Waterfront Museum has been conceived as the focus of Swansea’s new Maritime Quarter, attracting people to the waterfront and helping to spark off the qualitative regeneration of the area. Telling the story of the past, present and future of Welsh culture, it aims to provide the community with free, open access to a new social and cultural resource. The design responds to its context, memories of historical uses of the site and the very specific requirements of a modern museum. The dynamism of the railway lines which formed a pattern across the site are recreated in the arc of the new galleries, and traced in the landscaped park around the museum. In contrast to the existing listed warehouse building, which has been retained and refurbished, these newer galleries provide light, lofty contemporary spaces with the flexibility to house large objects in an exciting and unexpected way. The counterpoint between old and new is an important theme in the design and is shown here on the Ramp in recent photographs by Hélène Binet and James Brittain. This contrast extends to the choice of materials, where differing levels of translucency in the glazed curtain walling are juxtaposed against the visual weight of the new slate wall to the south elevation of the galleries. Here the use of three different slates from Welsh quarries provides a reference both to the building’s heritage and the ongoing materials industry. The design forms part of an architectural narrative which extends right through the building to include the exhibition design and landscaping.