The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, an impressive feature in Coventry’s regenerated city centre was designed by architecs Pringle Richards Sharratt is a beautifully crafted new extension, and imaginative re-use of an existing building that located in Coventry, United Kingdom. The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum project consists of two main elements which create accommodations including new temporary and permanent exhibition galleries spaces, history centre reading room, a new archive for the city and other significant collections, arcade orientation space with a timber gridshell roof, a café, shop and tourist information centre. The project also consisted of a conversion of the existing building to provide galleries for the city’s art and natural history collections, museum stores, conservation studios, loading bay, further education spaces and administration offices.
The primary constraints were the relationship between the new building and the new University Square, the setting of the Grade 1 listed Cathedral the existing Herbert building and the Mediaeval vault within the site. The form of the building responds to both the Medieval context of the area and the post-war reconstruction of the city, with a new space that draws the public from the new square into the museum. The former back of the building is now a new front facing the Cathedral, with an arcade connecting it to the old main entrance. A new glazed public arcade extends the public realm through the building, forming a nucleus for the whole complex, flanked by two levels of galleries on one side and the single storey History Centre on the other.
The highest standards of sustainable design were sought. Old plant was replaced with modern, energy efficient systems. Natural ventilation and timber from sustainable resources have been used as far as possible. (The need for strict temperature and humidity controls, as well as a four-hour fire resistant structure, for the archives, placed some restrictions on choices.) New trees and a Peace Garden have replaced a former car park. The landscape outside is equally important and the new Peace Garden commemorates the bombing of Coventry during the war and marks the outline of the former houses that occupied the site, with Corten walls engraved with the names of their occupants between the 1400s and 1940. The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum is one of Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award Finalist 2009.