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Museum puts down woodland roots

“A very elegant piece of architecture that is humane and sustainable,” Shaohua Di, Judge.

Project: Story of Gardening Museum

Award: Civic – Libraries and museums, Bronze, 2022

Location: Bruton, UK

Architect: Stonewood Design

Client: Story of Gardening Museum

Hidden from view on the edge of a small but ancient woodland, the Story of Gardening Museum is a space of calm serenity that celebrates the historic Somerset landscape that surrounds it.

Set underground with a long glazed elevation opening onto the adjacent woodland, from a distance the only hint of a built structure is a balustrade that runs along the edge of the museum's grassed roof. Deer and other wildlife roam freely here.

A treetop walkway gently snakes down into the woodland, fully immersing the visitor in nature. Visitors catch the first glimpses of the museum's glazed façade between the trees and foliage. It is an unexpected and almost incongruous sight to find such an elegant civic space hidden away in this remote bucolic setting.
On arrival, elegant five-metre-high glass doors open into the reception and café space. During the day-time the woodland is reflected in the glazing. The museum's permanent exhibition centres on the history of gardening. The exhibition spaces offer broad views back out to the woodland, maintaining a constant dialogue between interior and exterior.

Design highlights

The interior of the museum is a simple concrete shell. Bathrooms and cafe areas display a continental style “civic-ness” through the use of moulded ceramic tiles. This is complemented by a playfulness in metal coat pegs which are handcrafted by local blacksmiths in a natural waxed finish to the theme of garden tools, flowers and insects.

  • Story of Gardening Museum
  • Story of Gardening Museum
  • Story of Gardening Museum
  • Story of Gardening Museum
  • Story of Gardening Museum
  • Story of Gardening Museum
  • Story of Gardening Museum
  • Story of Gardening Museum
  • Story of Gardening Museum

Photo credit: Craig Auckland, Fotohaus

  • LEAD DESIGNER: Nicola du Pisanie
    TREE TOP WALKWAY: Mark Thomas Architects, Mark Thomas
    TREE TOP WALKWAY: Henry Fagan Engineering, Henry Fagan
    QUANTITY SURVEYOR / COST CONSULTANT: Synergy Construction and Property Consultants, James Cottle
    MEP ENGINEERING: E3 Consulting Engineers, Andy Jarvis and Mat Twitchen

  • STRUCTURAL AND CIVILS ENGINEER: Hydrock Engineering, Tom Roberts
    EXHIBITION DESIGNERS: Kossmann DeJong, Robert van der Linde
    WALKWAY VISUALISER: Chris Bisset, Chris Bisset

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