Scott Brownrigg unveils design for the Museum of Military Medicine

19.05.17

The selected site for the Museum of Military Medicines relocation from Keogh Barracks is situated in Cardiff Bay, on the corner of two roads - Lloyd George Avenue, one of the major routes connecting Cardiff City centre to Cardiff Bay and Hemingway Road.

The move is part of a bid to create “an outward facing, more inclusive, cultural enterprise” within Cardiff, with the proposal being positively received by Cardiff Council.  A spokesman at Cardiff Council said “Cardiff Council recognise the significance of bringing a national collection to the city as part of its tourism offer as it seeks to establish itself as a European capital.”

Strategically located opposite the former Grade II Listed Bute Street Railway Station which has strong historical links with military medical history; it was the embarkation point for wounded soldiers in WWI on their way to the military hospitals in South Wales and the western side of England, it is also close to other historic and cultural icons within the city, such as the Wales Millennium Centre, The Coal Exchange, The Senedd and the Pier Head Building and is adjacent to Bute Town, which is currently undergoing regeneration.

The museum will tell the history and development of the four Corps of the Army Medical Service; the Royal Army Medical Corps, the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, the Royal Army Dental Corps and the Royal Army Veterinary Corps; from the English Civil War to the current day in an engaging, modern and interactive way.  The museum will not only house a fantastic collection of artefacts including uniforms and insignia, medical, dental and veterinary equipment and ambulances, but also has an extensive library and archive that records the many stories of those that have served and their achievements.

Scott Brownrigg has created the design and public realm proposals for the stunning new building, which suitably reinforces the building’s status as the “first National UK Museum in Wales” and reflects the museum’s desire to promote transparency and openness; whilst carefully considering the surrounding context.  

Given the types of artefacts on display, the design incorporates a variety of different spaces and visitor experiences. The incorporation of a connecting ramp is an integrally stunning yet functional design feature allowing the spaces to be connected through a prescribed, processional route. However visitors will also have the option to bypass certain areas to focus on those exhibitions and artefacts of most interest to them. The ramp and incorporation of gallery balconies enables a different perspective on some of the larger exhibits (particularly for children), offering elevated views from different levels. An open and transparent atrium space faces out on to a new plaza and the historic railway station beyond.

The concept design reflects Cardiff Bay’s cultural and industrial heritage as a port and industrial area, by using the concept of a ship or industrial container as the vessel to host the exhibits and artefacts.

The main body of the museum is conceived as a floating industrial form with the expressed north lights covered in corten steel cladding. The building is wrapped on two sides by the glazed atrium entrance and circulation spaces, enabling movement to be perceived by passers-by, creating activity and interest.  In turn this is partially sheathed in a perforated copper veil which provides solar shading.

Both the corten and the copper make a further subtle reference in colour tone (in a contemporary and abstract way) to the Pier Head building as a beacon within the overall fabric of Cardiff Bay.

A café, reading room and auditorium will be open for community use.  A bespoke room, specific to the local community has also been included.