Newsletter - Links - Advertise - Contact Us - Privacy
 

National Museum of Scotland refresh spotlighted

Bookmark and Share | Send to friend

November 2 2011

National Museum of Scotland refresh spotlighted
Prolific photographer Andrew Lee has returned from a visit to the recently refreshed National Museum of Scotland carrying more than just a few knick-knacks from the tourist shop – he’s carried a bunch of photographs detailing every inch of the refurbished attraction under his arms.

From the revitalised Grand Hall which can breathe again thanks to the removal of an ill advised water feature to the incongruous sight of an historic propeller plane hanging precariously from the ceiling of one antechamber nothing has escaped Lee’s lens.

The changes have been wrought by Gareth Hoskins Architects as part of the most comprehensive redevelopment of the Museum’s complex of buildings and displays since it first opened in 1866.

This has seen the A listed Museum returned to its Victorian splendour whilst a series of external and internal spaces and alterations have been inserted into the sparling structure.

It also opens up connections to Benson & Forsyth’s 1999 extension creating a far more coherent cultural hub than the previously disjointed relationship allowed.

Chris Coleman-Smith, a director at Gareth Hoskins Architects, told Urban Realm: "The new entrance hall has provided access for all, additional public space and accommodation for the facilities expected of a 21 century museum without compromising the galleries above which have been opened for the display of a largest number of objects from the National collection that has ever been exhibited before.

"We are particularly pleased that the new access and connections throughout the museum which are successfully encouraging  movement and exploration of the galleries and exhibitions in a way that has not previously been possible.  It’s great to see the galleries and public spaces full of visitors and the response of the public, media and stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive."

A basement space has been opened up to serve as primary entrance point
A basement space has been opened up to serve as primary entrance point
Exhibits have been carefully positioned to excite the eyes
Exhibits have been carefully positioned to excite the eyes

Stuffed animals and painstakingly recreated skeletons cram every cubic inch of volume in the natural history section
Stuffed animals and painstakingly recreated skeletons cram every cubic inch of volume in the natural history section
The spruced up attraction offers a home more befitting of its distinguished contents than the previous neglected structure with its ill advised accretions
The spruced up attraction offers a home more befitting of its distinguished contents than the previous neglected structure with its ill advised accretions

This suspended propeller plane stops visitors in their tracks
This suspended propeller plane stops visitors in their tracks
Traffic choked Chambers Street is in line for pedestrianisation in a later phase of the 15 year museum masterplan
Traffic choked Chambers Street is in line for pedestrianisation in a later phase of the 15 year museum masterplan

6 Comments

kevin toner
#1 Posted by kevin toner on 6 Nov 2011 at 11:27 AM
A "museum alteration” or a “museum redevelopment” (?)

The word redevelopment has often been utilised, frustratingly as a blanket term to describe an act of architectural conservation, be it alterations, refurbishment, conversion, etc.

Clerically, when it comes to [conversely] working on a demolition and newbuild project [rather than a conservation project] you have the luxury of using simply one word albeit [redevelopment being] a long word. It’s a single-word nous that can help inform authorities and the public on the type of construction activity quickly and succinctly, i.e. not if the distinctions between what are simply alterations and what aren’t are blurred by common and elusive word misuse.

In the Egyptian Halls developer’s pursuit of ‘conversion’ or ‘demolition/newbuild’, the recent online petition adopted the word ‘redevelopment’ [the R word] to describe the latter, albeit the street signature form adopted the word ‘demolition’ instead to help avoid any misunderstanding given that the R word can be construed as meaning either a ‘conversion’ or a ‘demolition/newbuild’.

This is my second attempt in trying to explain and highlight R word usage.

Yes, again I’m choosing to comment on one of the many recent “redevelopment” press articles that were soon discovered, i.e. in a small mission to justify its use in the above petition, which I'd written. Nothing came of any further responses, but there was perhaps an effect!

Since the original comment [to BD], there’s been fewer articles/headlines misusing the word and a significant increase in proper usage. This was simply by chance until now. The word redevelopment has stayed on the online petition to mean ‘demolition and rebuilding’, i.e. for now!

In my experience of cataloguing at the city archives (from the 1930s/70s so far), architects have generally in 99% of cases not got the word redevelopment wrong.

I’ve seen two instances lately of note, 1) the above museum example, which was presented at this year’s Scottish Civic Trust conference last week by its architects as a “museum redevelopment” not simply “museum alteration/s”; and 2) where (for city archives) I of course refrained from cataloguing a 1960s factory alteration as a said “redevelopment”– an oversight by a former employer.

Has misuse proliferated in recent times because of 1) the notion that everything a developer does is ‘development’; or 2) is it because ‘construction operations’ have been confused with what is actually ‘construction’; or is it because of something else (?)

‘Build’ is among several verbs used to define the verb ‘develop’. Development or redevelopment is that which can be developed or redeveloped. In relation to the museum, would ‘develop’ mean: 1) ‘...to build...’; or 2) ...to bring out what is latent [no pun on defects intended]; or 3) ...to bring to a more advanced state; or 4) ...to evolve [all c/o Chambers]. “Museum redevelopment” is ergo okay, i.e. as a ‘flourishing’; an ‘evolution’, or an ‘advancement’ of the museum, but the fact that it is in balance more of an alteration than it is a ‘rebuilding’ means that the R word cannot be applied without propagating misapprehension in word usage terms.

The English language has privileged the word ‘build’ as perhaps the only ‘defined’ verb in the definition of the word ‘develop’ [viz. as elaborated in the Chambers Dictionary “...to build on or to prepare (land) for building on...”, which of course can translate into “...to re-build on or to prepare (land) for re-building on...”]. The dissemination of architectural discourse that turns its back on this privilege is put bluntly insincere.

Therefore is it right to label the National Museum improvements as ‘redevelopment’ (?)

In relation to the ‘build’ angle of ‘develop’, i.e. “...to re-build on or to prepare (land) for re-building on...” then any extents of ‘rebuilding’ at the museum can be said to be ‘partial redevelopment’, e.g. the replaced museum underbuild would certainly qualify.

An actual test of whether or not a scope-of-works is an entire “redevelopment” might hinge on whether or not the actual finished result is more akin or attributable to that of the new architect or that of the original architect.

Let’s hope that's helped in the quest to demystify the unnecessary elusiveness in the R word!
JD
#2 Posted by JD on 6 Nov 2011 at 12:04 PM
Yes indeed, very demystifying. Have you thought of using an editor Kevin?
kevin toner
#3 Posted by kevin toner on 6 Nov 2011 at 12:41 PM
Thanks for spotting the pun! You might therefore be the perfect editor for the job,

Proofreads [not edits per se] welcomed!
kevin toner
#4 Posted by kevin toner on 6 Nov 2011 at 12:59 PM
One too many 'elusives', albeit there is only one!
Barry
#5 Posted by Barry on 6 Nov 2011 at 13:27 PM
@kevin toner

Interesting points.

I think it all depends on what definition we apply to the term 'redevelopment'. If we take the meaning : ' the act of improving by renewing and restoring' then I think it is perfectly acceptable to apply such a term to this project.

'Museum alteration' is probably a more prudent term. Or, just 'development' since that best describes what is happens.
kevin toner
#6 Posted by kevin toner on 6 Nov 2011 at 19:42 PM
Firstly, would be good if anyone could follow up with the Oxford or Cambridge Dictionary perspectives, albeit won’t be very different from the Chambers.

Here’s what I consider to be a redevelopment project proper, also by GHA:
http://www.urbanrealm.com/news/2925/%C2%A365m_George_House_redevelopment_plan_ditched.html

When I worked on such schemes, I called them redevelopments, particularly where the land use had changed. That’s my working understanding of the word.

I also applied that nous for cataloguing the drawings at city archives, but by and large I haven’t had to go against the architect’s labelling, but watch this space!

As for GHA’s Museum alterations (or partial “Redevelopment” if preferred), I agree that the R word is an emotional response as you point out, bearing on the aforementioned non-build meanings of the word.

When it gets catalogued in the future, hopefully the cataloguer will do as I do now, i.e. properly define the scope-of-work description since researchers will not have the benefit of an accompanying photograph. The less delving and head-scratching that researchers have to do the better!

I agree that the buzzword ‘development’ “best describes” what it is, but purely in spoken language terms, e.g. when you would provide directions for someone – let’s say a parking meter near to some scaffolding and maintenance works on the City Chambers, where yes you could say “nearest one would be near that development over there”!

Probably not a great idea to apply spoken language for labelling architectural work! Our descendants won’t appreciate it.

Post your comments

 

All comments are pre-moderated and
must obey our house rules.

 

Back to November 2011

Search News
Subscribe to Urban Realm Magazine
Features & Reports
For more information from the industry visit our Features & Reports section.