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Location: Park Avenue, Winchester

Client: University of Southampton / Textile Conservation Centre

Value: £2.2m

Status: Completed 1999

Textile Conservation Centre

The Textile Conservation Centre is a leading international centre for practice, education and research into textile conservation. Located within the City Conservation Area, the new Centre formed part of a wider campus development for the Winchester School of Art, forming the fourth of five phases within ArchitecturePLB’s masterplan.

In 1997, building on two decades of success, the Textile Conservation Centre entered an exciting new phase of development, forming an academic partnership with the University of Southampton to offer a Masters degree, postdoctoral research and short refresher courses for curators and conservators.

This development precipitated the relocation from cramped and compromised quarters in Hampton Court to this purpose-designed, 1200sqm concrete and steel framed building on the Winchester School of Art Campus.

In its new University setting, the building was designed to provide bespoke, purpose built laboratories and work rooms for the conservators with the added benefit of academic synergies with related departments such as Archaeology, Chemistry and Environmental Services.

At the start of the design process, the practice entered into a lengthy and detailed briefing process with the TCC. This combined a careful analysis of the conservators’ needs with the stringent requirements of the Museums and Galleries Commission, to provide a climate controlled, secure environment for the restoration of a wide variety of artefacts, some of which are of National Importance.

The building is organised with analytical, dye and treatment laboratories on the ground floor, which serve large conservation workrooms. These north lit, double height laboratories were designed to benefit from UV filtered north light and allow for the vertical and horizontal positioning of large artefacts.

The research laboratories have been designed to be strictly environmentally controlled to protect rare or delicate objects often received in a poor state of repair. A photographic studio, linked to first floor darkroom and technician’s office, is located at the east end, together with isolation room and secure collections.

Visitors arrive at the first floor reception level by staircase or lift within a glazed tower which bypasses the operations area.