Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Ditchling, United Kingdom
Adam Richards Architects

Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft holds a collection of works by some of the most important applied artists of the 20th century including Eric Gill & David Jones. The project’s primary goal was to tie together a disparate group of buildings and use the architecture to tell the story of these artists & craftspeople in a new and compelling way.

The project delivers state-of-the-art museum facilities with a construction budget of only £1,900/m2. A disused listed barn on the village green has been converted to create the museum’s new entrance, café and shop; the existing museum buildings in the old village school have been comprehensively refurbished to provide galleries, a reading room, a learning space and offices; and two new buildings have been constructed from zinc & tile-clad Cross-Laminated Timber to link the above elements together, providing a new gallery and collection store.

The restored 18th century oak structure of the entrance building is re-cast as the museum's 'first exhibit', and on arrival its atmosphere sets the tone for visitors’ encounter with craft, place and the idea of the past in the spaces to come. A ‘pilgrimage’ route through the building reveals the weaving together of old and new. The culmination of the museum is a gallery to house the Stanhope Press, which is placed at the end of a bright, chapel-like space. Workshop groups will be able to use the press – gathering around it like officiating priests, animating the museum, and providing an echo of the lives of the artists and craftspeople who made this village unique.

New windows in this gallery give a final view from the press to the South Downs on the horizon, invoking the unity of landscape, craft & ritual that so inspired those who came to Ditchling. The museum opened in September 2013.

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