Designs for new Museum of Scouting by Tate Harmer unveiled

Tate Harmer has won a competition to design a new museum for The Scout Association (TSA) with a scheme inspired by the concept of a colourful ‘Big Tent’.

The £6million museum and visitor centre will be located at the TSA’s headquarters at Gilwell Park in Chingford, east London. Regarded as the spiritual home of Scouting worldwide, this was the first place where Scout leaders were trained in 1919 and is now a Scout Adventure Centre hosting regular large scale National Events It is hoped the new facility aims to be will be completed in time for its centenary in 2019. The project will be accompanied by activities for both Scouts and the general public, with the new facility due for completion in 2020.

Tate Harmer aims to create a celebratory and fun focal point for UK Scouting whilst enhancing the experience for its many international Scouting visitors. The practice’s winning scheme includes an exhibition space that tells the story of the Scouting movement and its founder Robert Baden-Powell, as well as providing a climate controlled archive store, and a new cafe and shop. Exhibits range from Baden-Powell’s Rolls Royce and Caravan to delicate film and paper items.

The 1,600m² design is centred around a ‘Big Tent’ festooned with Scout neckerchiefs to symbolically represent the various troops on the site and all those across the world. Made from coated polyester panels, the tent will provide a canopy over the site’s central gathering space at Camp Square and connect to a new, 15 metre high timber clock and bell tower. This will act as a beacon to guide visitors along a new heritage trail through the site, as well as serving as a stack-effect ventilation chimney for the heritage centre.

Arranged around this structure, the new facilities are designed to improve the visitor experience for both day visitors to the site and for those staying at the Scout Adventure Centre.

The proposed buildings are modest, single storey and timber clad to blend into the mature landscape setting. They will be made from pre-fabricated, cross-laminated timber to minimise construction time on site and will have robust finishes in line with the Scouting philosophy of self-reliance and sustainability.

The aim is to achieve a BREEAM Excellent or Outstanding rating (the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings).

lead architect Jerry Tate of Tate Harmer says,

“The concept is to provide a space for celebration – a place that is rooted in Scouting history, but also looks towards its future. The new Camp Square will be at the beating heart of Gilwell Park and the Scouting movement, and will reflect the energy and diversity of Scouting in the twenty-first century”.

The TSA is applying for Heritage Lottery Funding for the project, and construction is expected to complete 2020, pending planning approval.