Sheerness Museum and library
The brief was to adapt and extend the nineteenth-century church, converting it to a museum and art gallery.
The museum and art gallery focuses on the maritime and aeronautical history of Sheerness-on-Sea, and the rest of the Isle of Sheppey. This involves restoring, adapting and extending the Sheerness Royal Naval Dockyard Church.
The church is a Grade II* listed building but, after being gutted in a fire in 2001, is currently derelict. It is on Historic England's Heritage At Risk Register, which lists it as "Priority A - Immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric". The trust that owns the church is seeking Heritage Lottery Funding to hopefully restore and develop the building.
I felt that, to emphasise the historical significance of the displays, the museum should be in the existing church. This means that, while looking at the items on display, the visitors could also see an important location for the people who created them. The extension holds gallery space and a workshop, as well as large community spaces on the first floor. These allow the residents non-sports related, indoor meeting spaces.
The museum itself will be split by subject. The naval section will be on the ground floor, with the anchors and model of Sheerness' Royal Naval Dockyard that are required in the brief. The aviation section will be raised, so that while viewing the artefacts, the visitors will be able to look over and see the biplane hanging from the ceiling.
The aviation area surrounds the library, which forms the remainder of the first floor. This library is housed inside a wooden pod and focuses on the local history of the area, as well as the subjects covered in the museum. The addition of a library was inspired by a similar room in the STEAM Museum in Swindon, whereas the shaping of it was inspired by comparable pods in Peckham Library. The positioning of the library pod was influenced by the locations of church organs across the country.
The extension's ceiling contrasts the addition of the pod in the church. Instead of the convex curves of the library exterior, the ceiling of the extension is covered in wooden-framed concave, bubble-like shapes. The circumferences of these shapes create the extension's floor plan.