3 minute interview with Louise Crossman

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Louise Crossman Architects have been commissioned by Onion Collecitve to design an extension to Watchet’s historic Boat Museum. The extension will house a new visitor centre and help to tell the story of Watchet’s rich heritage. It will act as both a welcome to the town, and help to improve the flow of visitors to the top of Swain Street.

Louise will also draw out plans to restore the original building, improving the structure of original walls and the facilities inside (providing plumbing for example), whilst aiming to retain the authentic quality of the current experience. The design will also provide a more aesthetic welcome to visitors as they arrive by car, coach or rail.

Originally designed by Brunel, the Boat Museum started life as a goods shed, built in 1862 as a terminus for the Bristol and Exeter Railway.

When designing an addition to Watchet's boat museum, what elements are you most conscious of?

Its setting and history, the building was part of the railway operations but has become separated and would benefit with being viewed more closely within this context. That said, the building and its current activity as the Boat Museum now form a gateway to the commercial district of the town. Another important consideration is seeking to reflect, accommodate and reinforce the intentions for the future.

What inspires you about Watchet?

It’s a great town with a combination of resilient community and commercial activity that reflects the area we live and practice in.

What materials do you most enjoy using?

We try to match materials with integrity of design; therefore selection of materials tends to be strongly influenced by the context of the proposals. In the case of the Boat Museum extension we were attracted to robust materials, such as coated steel, that reflected the activities within and around the building whilst allowing the existing building to speak for itself.

If you could have dinner with 3 famous architects or artists, living or dead who would they be?

Sir John Soane, a master and collector of his craft. If you have to opportunity go and visit the Soane museum at Lincolns Inn in London, www.soane.org He was also probably a great gossip so that would get dinner going. Luis Baragan was a father of modern architecture in a wonderfully colourful and sensitive manner. As he primarily practised in South America, dinner would have to be there which would help proceedings! My final choice is probably Ushinda Findlay who sadly died, last year. She is my contemporary choice and a great ambassador for innovative thinking in architecture at a domestic scale.

What is your most favourite public building?

Most recently (and because I'm so fickle, my favourites change all the time) the Aquatics Centre at the London Olympic Park; world class architecture for £3.50 a head with a swim thrown in.

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