The SS Great Britain Trust has appointed regional construction company, Beard, to build the new national Brunel museum alongside Bristol’s Floating Harbour.
The museum will be part of the £7.2 million Being Brunel project which explores the genius mind and works of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Britain’s greatest and most inventive engineer.
Beard is working with Alec French Architects on the new two-storey building which will lie alongside Brunel’s historic ship ss Great Britain, one of Britain’s top-rated museums. The project is due to start construction in November this year.
The new Brunel museum has been designed to reflect the façade of original buildings that would have flanked the ss Great Britain as she was constructed in her dry dock in 1840, enhancing the historic accuracy of the dockyard. The project will involve Beard constructing a harbour-side building that will connect to the historic Dock Office and Brunel’s Drawing Office via a first-floor walkway. Working within a historic dockyard, Beard will build a steel-frame exhibition hall containing multiple gallery spaces and a mezzanine level, as well as a cafe.
“It’s a tremendous honour to be involved in the preservation of Brunel’s great legacy through this fantastic interactive new museum which, when completed, will bring Brunel’s genius and extraordinary mind to life,” says Mike Hedges, construction director for Beard Bristol. “This is a complex project where our construction team will be working within a historic dockyard alongside the iconic ss Great Britain, which will remain open to visitors during the building works.”
When completed in February 2018, Being Brunel will be a major new museum and visitor experience that will be a national centre of expertise, sharing Brunel’s life and works.
Mike Day, Being Brunel Project Manager for the ss Great Britain Trust, says: “The appointment of Beard and the start of construction work is a major milestone for the project. It’s also an incredibly exciting moment, with the striking new building set to take shape over the coming months in place of derelict corrugated metal structures that were recently removed from the harbour-side.”
The award of Being Brunel, the national Brunel museum, follows Beard’s recent completion of a new visitor centre at the iconic Clevedon Pier in Somerset, a historic landmark which is the only operating Grade I-listed seaside pier in the UK.