Terry Farrell & Partners completes new extension for Newcastle's premier natural history museum
The GNM in Newcastle represents a newly opened and successful £26m (part HLF funded) museum, bringing together the North East’s premier collections of archaeology, natural history and geology.
The project sits within Farrells Cultural Quarter Masterplan occupying a prominent site on the Great North Road. Farrells brief was to address its setting in relation to the city, limited exhibition space, reinterpret a varied collection and unsuitable environmental conditions.
The redesigned galleries of the Grade 2* listed building, expose collections and areas previously hidden. A new central north / south axial route through the galleries and new extension form a vista between the university and city beyond. Cross views via side galleries to the outside provide orientation and contrast.
The extension building compliments and contrasts the existing Hancock Museum in form and use; they are separated visually and physically by a double height glazed ‘galleria’ allowing their identities and forms to read strongly whilst providing appropriate scale against adjacent buildings and providing new east / west entrance points.
The new building contextually derives its form, size and elemental composition from the Hancock building; strong horizontal datums and vertical rhythms transfer from the existing building across to the new building. Contrast is achieved through modern materials and detailing, and the bold use of accent colours.
The building is zoned with retail and hospitality to the front spaces and galleria; circulation is ordered about the existing four stone stairs and new galleria stair; education, special exhibition and society spaces are stacked vertically through the new extension.