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Competition: Henry Moore learning hub, UK

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The Henry Moore Foundation has announced a competition for a £2.5 million interpretation centre at its headquarters in Perry Green, Hertfordshire (Deadline: 28 March)

The contest seeks proposals to redevelop and extend an existing £1.25 million HawkinsBrown-designed complex – known as the Sheep Field Barn Gallery – which was constructed more than 20 years ago on the rural site where the famous sculptor lived for more than four decades between 1941 and 1986.

The project will deliver new learning and engagement facilities for the Henry Moore Studios & Gardens which receives around 2,000 school student visitors every year and hosts a range of workshops, talks and tours despite lacking a dedicated interpretation space on the site.

Henry Moore Studios & Gardens

Henry Moore Studios & Gardens

Credit:Image by Shutterstock

According to the brief: ‘To date educational and engagement activities have taken place in gallery spaces, the café or outdoors, none of which are ideal for “making” and other creative arts activities. Indeed, the lack of suitable workshop space has limited the development of engagement programme at a time when demand for such is growing.

‘The ambition is to develop and add a modest extension to the existing building to provide state-of-the-art facilities to run an extensive engagement programme, ranging from school workshops to academic talks, which would cater for all segments of our audience and provide greater opportunities for audience engagement.’

Henry Moore – thought to be one of the most influential British sculptors of the modern era – moved to Hoglands house in Perry Green in the early 1940s and created a series of studios in the surrounding former agricultural structures. In 1977, he created the Henry Moore Foundation to safeguard his legacy and run the former home, studios and gardens as a museum with educational activities.

The latest project will upgrade and extend the Sheep Field Barn Gallery designed by London firm HawkinsBrown which is located a short distance from the historic Hoglands house. The ‘modest extension’ will include exhibition areas, two exhibition spaces, a lunch area for school children, a film viewing area, toilets, lockers and a new entrance.

The competition is open to all practices eligible to work in the UK. bids will be evaluated 60 per cent on quality and 40 per cent on price. Following an open PQQ round, five shortlisted practices will each receive £2,000 to create four A1 display boards and a model illustrating their concept. An overall winner will be announced in May.


Lesley Wake, chief operation officer at Henry Moore Foundation

Lesley Wake

Lesley Wake

What is your vision for future interpretation centre, and what would you like to see in submissions to the competition?

Submissions for this project should preserve the external agricultural feel of the barn, with additions being light and eloquent in appearance, keeping noise and visual impact to a minimum. Greatest attention should be given to the interior design and function, with a focus on quality finishes.

Specifically, the development will include a double height gallery space for the display and interpretation of the work of Henry Moore – sculpture and works on paper; two fully equipped learning and engagement spaces for students of all ages; plus ancillary spaces. The learning spaces should be sufficiently flexible to accommodate a variety of activities: from ‘messy’ making workshops accommodating up to 30 people to ‘theatre-style’ lectures for audiences of up to 50. The spaces will incorporate resources for online research and the facility to view films about Moore; while at other times providing a relaxed space to support special educational needs students.

The development must acknowledge the foundation’s aspiration to become carbon net zero, giving due consideration to the environmental impact in terms of construction, running costs and ongoing maintenance. Passive environmental control in the gallery space is preferred. Construction methods should minimise impact on the local neighbourhood.

What role do you see this competition playing in the development of new local, international and underrepresented architectural and design talents, and helping to address the underrepresentation and engagement of many communities in our interpretation of the built environment?

We are open to submissions from a diverse range of innovative practices – small and large. This is not a large or flamboyant project, but our expectations – especially for interior design – are high. We are looking for a designer who will be excited by the rural nature of the Moore estate and who will work with us to find smart design solutions to our specific challenges.

The buildings here are important, but Moore’s sculptures are more important, so too is the land in which they sit: a landscape consisting of sky with fields of grass and a few trees – a panorama in which colour is kept to a minimum so that Moore’s works can be positioned to emphasise their relationship to nature. Any architect we work with must be happy to be ‘second fiddle’ to Henry Moore’s lead.

Are there any recent similar competitions or projects, either locally or internationally, which have delivered impressive results?

We are running this competition because we are looking for fresh innovative design ideas. There are many cultural projects we admire, but we do not wish to replicate what has gone before. We have unique design challenges at Henry Moore Studios and Gardens: to echo the essence of Moore’s studios – none of which are grand or pretentious – but which do invoke a sense of purpose and activity; to combine a rural setting with state of the art facilities; to elegantly solve the juxtaposition of an agricultural barn with a light-filled extension; to make renewable energy systems (and the associated plant) ‘invisible’ or beautiful.

How do you see projects at the Henry Moore’s Studios and Gardens in Perry Green evolving in the future and what competitions will you hold next?

Following this project, we have no plans for future developments at Henry Moore Studios and Gardens. Our next capital project is likely to be at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, where we will be looking to make improvements to the public spaces. This city centre location would offer a very different architectural proposition to the quiet, rural environment at Perry Green.

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