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Tails of the Sea: SeaCity Museum, Southampton by Wilkinson Eyre Architects

view of pavilion

It is a hundred years since the sinking of the Titanic, the anniversary of which has produced two significant new visitor centres in Bellfast and Southampton. We have featured the rather monumental Belfast centre before. Today it is the turn of the more modest SeaCity Museum in Southampton by Wilkinson Eyre Architects. The Museum uses the Titanic to tell the story of how the sea has shaped the city and those that have lived and worked in it over the last two thousand years. What does the architecture contribute to this story?

The project is principally a refurbishment of the Magistrates' Court Building designed by E. Berry Webber in the 1930's an important building in the city. Wilkinson Eyre Architects have added a significant extension in the form of a new pavilion. (To the extreme left of the plan shown here, or north of the building).

The renovation included the reuse of the court rooms as galleries, the enclosure of the prisoner's exercise yard to create a triple height light well, and the use of the former prison cells as the WCs! It also included a number of technical operations such as the refurbishment of the building's steel frame. The extension uses glass and reconstituted stone precast panels in three interlocking bays to give a bold new urban presence. The slightly skewed geometry of the pavilion gives a strong sense of what it might feel like on a listing ship though without being overt.

detail of bay

street view of bays

evening shot

red oxide wall

lobby

roof light

red exhibition area

yello exhibition area

old courthouse

site planelevation

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