The History Centre – Willmott Dixon

Project: Plymouth History Centre
Scaffold Contractor: LTC Specialist Scaffolding
Main Contractor: Willmott Dixon

LTC Specialist Scaffolding Ltd have finished the first phase of scaffold works on this prestigious project in the heart of Plymouth City Centre. LTC were awarded the scaffolding package by Willmott Dixon to provide external scaffold to the envelope of the existing Central Library and Museum. This involved the erection of two large temporary roofs, one of which had to be designed in such a method to allow it to be stripped in phases across it’s width as the demolition of part of the existing structure progressed and protect the remaining buildings which are listed and “at risk”.

The Temporary roof system used by LTC was the UNI Roof ( formerly known as UBIX & EA roof system). The external scaffold has been clad with shrink wrap. Within the large demonstration rooms/galleries, birdcages/crash decks were required to provide protection and access for the remedial and demolition works. LTC decided to use their PCP metal boards with its unique clipping system which favours timber boards in this environment as they do not warp, twist or shake. All the floors had to be temporary propped to allow the installation of the birdcages/crash decks. All temporary stair accesses are Haki stair system.

The rear of both the library and the museum on North Hill will be demolished and rebuilt to make way for a huge new extension which will form a museum archive, exhibition space and brand new side extension covering 3500m2 . There will be a new entrance onto Tavistock Place forming a public Piazza with eating and drinking areas. St Luke’s Church will also be transformed into a gallery with new pedestrian links through to North Hill – with plans to create a “a more socially vibrant feel to the area. “The building, which was built more than 100 years ago, will undergo a huge £34 million make-over The project will bring together major collections under one roof in the new archive, including the West Devon Record Office, the Local Studies Library Collection, the SW Film and Television Archive, the South West Image Bank and the Naval Heritage Collection from Devonport.

It is thought this will provide modern, safe storage facilities for these valuable collections. The project is scheduled to open in 2020, in time for the 400th anniversary celebrations of the Mayflower ship setting sail from Plymouth to America . Designed by architects Atkins, the centre will incorporate the existing museum and art gallery and central library buildings along with a contemporary extension at the back on Tavistock Place. The architectural plans feature a cantilevered ‘floating’ box with reflective cladding, which will form the heart of the impressive building. Inside there will be a powerful visitor experience in the seven new galleries and five temporary exhibition spaces using the city’s collections of art, archives and objects.

There are plans to convert spaces into interactive and fun galleries that will include a giant mammoth, a flotilla of historic ships, massive original figureheads and interactive maps. Naval figureheads from old ships will be displayed at the front of the new centre in North Hill, hanging from the ceiling and lit at night. And the centre’s main temporary exhibition gallery in St Luke’s Church will be big enough to house exhibitions on the scale of features such as the Natural History Museum’s Dippy the Dinosaur.

Although the proposed extension will be higher than other buildings on North Hill, committee members were told that the design will be built to change colour to fit in with the skyline. Willmott Dixon have set up a webcam to show the progress of the site which is regularly being posted on social media.