London & South East

Pre-launch preview of £35 million Mary Rose Museum

The ongoing work at the £35 million Mary Rose Museum has taken a major step forward with the release of how it will look when it opens to the public this autumn.

Warings, a member of the international construction and services group Bouygues, is constructing the scheme for the Mary Rose Trust.

The Mary Rose Trust and internal architects Pringle Brandon unveiled a new illustration of how the new museum at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will be seen by the public when it is opened.

The building has been designed by Wilkinson Eyre, probably best known for the Millennium Bridge, crossing the Tyne between Gateshead and Newcastle.

For the Mary Rose, they have designed an elliptical ‘jewel box’, placing the hull at the centre with galleries running the length of the ship, each at a level corresponding to the deck levels.

Artifacts will be set out in these galleries, designed by the architect and maritime

archaeologist Chris Brandon, so visitors can see what the decks would have looked like moments before the ship sank.

The building is conceived as a finely crafted, wooden jewellery box, clad in timber planks in response to both the structure of the original ship and HMS Victory.

The timber will be painted black, reflecting England’s vernacular boat shed architecture, and minimally ornamented with inscriptions drawn from the carved ciphers used by the crew of the Mary Rose to identify their personal belongings.

A balcony to the west will offer visitors a spectacular vantage point over the Royal Navy dockyard and its numerous 18th and 19th Century Grade 1 and 2 star listed buildings.

Inside, the preserved starboard side of the Mary Rose hull will be the museum’s centrepiece. New galleries corresponding to the principal deck levels – castle, main and hold – run the length of the ship, imitating the missing port side and allowing the original artifacts to be displayed in context.

Galleries at either end will display additional material related to the corresponding deck level, and include further artifacts, interpretation material and hands-on experience.

Philippe Jouy, Warings Managing Director, added: “This is a project which will pose some unique challenges for our dedicated team. Not least is the immense care required to build a modern museum around the precious timbers of the ship as the final stages of its conservation continues.

“The museum will represent the very best in 21st century architecture and construction, providing a beautiful and secure environment for the finest collection of 16th century artifacts in the world.”

In the meantime, the ship’s hull is about to enter the final phase of conservation as the sprays are turned off later this year and visitors will have a unique look into the complexities of preserving the Tudor warship.

Head of Conservation at the Trust, Professor Mark Jones said: “Our visitors in 2012 will be able to see this final phase of conservation by looking into a hotbox and seeing both the ship and the process for removing the 100 tons of water the timbers now contain.

“This should all be gone by 2016, when we can take away the hotbox and reveal the ship completely. But even when she is fully dried out, the building’s temperature, light and

humidity will be very carefully controlled to ensure that all the artifacts are preserved in perpetuity.”

Next year will mark 30 years when the wreck broke the surface of the Solent, and will be when the Mary Rose Trust will open the new museum.

John Lippiett, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said: “It is a huge challenge to build safely not only over a unique 450 year old structure but also on a site which is itself a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

“But we have a team combining some of the best architectural, engineering and construction practices in the world and for us they have developed a scheme which managed to be both stunning and subtle.”

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Roma Publications

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