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12 Jan 2021

Scott Brownrigg-designed Museum of Military Medicine in Cardiff given planning approval
BY Tom Walker

Situated on the water’s edge, approximately 90 per cent of the Museum’s ground floor will be transparent to maintain a view of the dockside

Situated on the water’s edge, approximately 90 per cent of the Museum’s ground floor will be transparent to maintain a view of the dockside
photo: Scott Brownrigg

The Museum of Military Medicine in the UK has received planning approval for a new building in the city of Cardiff.

As a result, the historic attraction will move from its current home in Surrey to a new flagship facility designed by architects Scott Brownrigg.

The new building – set to be located in Cardiff Bay – will host the museum's comprehensive collection of archives and exhibitions documenting the legacy of British military medicine.

It will also host the UK’s first 8k immersive interactive video space.

The museum will tell the story of military healthcare disciplines including medicine, nursing, dental, veterinary and allied health professions, from the civil war era to the current day.

It explores developments in military medicine, including many that have gone on to be used in hospitals around the world to save lives and provide treatments that improve quality of life and wellbeing.

Those stories are told though exhibitions, archives and collections that incorporate over 30,000 objects that preserve the heritage of those who have saved lives through service.

The Museum’s search for a new location saw several UK cities considered and it was the Welsh capital’s medical heritage and innovations that first indicated its potential, before the Museum was then invited to submit a planning application on the Cardiff Council owned land at Britannia Quay.

Jason Semmens, director of the Museum of Military Medicine said: “This decision by Cardiff Council’s planning department is a major milestone in our vision to create a world class visitor attraction that will showcase and inspire further medical advancements and bring new resources and technology to Wales.

“Our goal is to create a national venue that will benefit its local community as we work with educators, healthcare providers and those creating lifesaving technologies that will support future lifesaving innovations. The Museum will become a centre for new educational programmes, foster research partnerships, and create in Cardiff Bay an institution that demonstrates Wales’ place at the forefront of UK innovation in healthcare.”

The approved application and move to Cardiff will now see the Museum continue to engage with the local community to ensure its heritage, diversity and stories feature heavily in its exhibitions.

Situated on the water’s edge, approximately 90 per cent of the Museum’s ground floor will be transparent to maintain a view of the dockside. The majority of the facility – 80 per cent – will sit on existing rough stone or hard landscaped land on the site of the previous Cardiff Bay Visitors Centre, The Tube. The Museum will also provide a café, shop, public toilets, a reading room, research facilities and an auditorium, which will be open for the community use.

Scott Brownrigg said: "We were briefed to design a new internationally renowned museum in Cardiff, to house records and artefacts that capture over 350 years of medical history.

"Bringing this collection to a wider audience, it was important to showcase the benefits this history and research has provided to the public. The museum is relocating from 'behind the wire' to a more public and accessible location. We were commissioned to reflect the museum’s desire to promote transparency and openness; whilst carefully considering the surrounding context."

The design concept design reflects Cardiff Bay’s cultural and industrial heritage as a port and industrial area. Architectural design and articulation use the concept of a ship or industrial container as the vessel to host the exhibits and artefacts, while creating an inviting and accessible public building.

Scott Brownrigg has designed the museum container as a “jewel box” which incorporates the museum experience and a processional ramp as part of the narrative. The thematic driver is memory.




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