New-look Fort Nelson scoops top architectural awards - Friday, 3 August 2012

The £3.5m scheme to transform Fort Nelson into a museum for the 21st century has scooped two top awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Last year’s project – which saw the Victorian fort developed in an innovative but sympathetic way – won the judges’ praise, particularly the spectacular, glass-sided Voice of the Guns gallery which houses 14 of the most iconic exhibits in the Royal Armouries’ national collection of artillery.

The Royal Armouries scooped the RIBA Downland Regional Award for Architectural Excellence and the RIBA South Conservation Award, recognising the project’s architectural preservation and enhancement of the Fort as a Scheduled Monument.

The winning citation read: “Fort Nelson is essentially a glorified but glorious lean-to against the massive fortifications that make up this Victorian gun fort overlooking Portsmouth Harbour. Beautifully designed by Pringle Richards Sharratt, the timber structure is almost an exhibit in itself…”

Museum director Peter Armstrong said, “Congratulations to everyone involved – this is a huge achievement. We succeeded in transforming the fort into a museum with guaranteed wow factor – while protecting and enhancing the historic building. All the feedback has been positive and the judges obviously agreed. All credit to our architects Pringle Richards Sharratt too, who designed the state-of-the-art Voice of the Guns Gallery, plus new visitor centre. A great team effort all round!”

Fort Nelson is a Scheduled Monument and a Grade I listed building, and is owned by Hampshire County Council. Last year, the Royal Armouries unveiled the completed project, which was supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Hampshire County Council, and particularly its architects and property team, provided invaluable assistance to the Royal Armouries on this project, to help transform Fort Nelson, and enable it to continue to make a valuable contribution towards the county’s £2.3billion overall tourist economy.

Working closely with English Heritage, the project allowed the Royal Armouries to showcase a number of the Fort’s historic features – including the iron bridge, the old original arched entrance portal and gates.

Highlights include:

Project managers paid close attention to conservation and sustainability issues throughout – including the use of hand-made, locally sourced Fareham Red bricks and the commission of locally created ironworks.

Standing high on Portsdown Hill near Fareham, Fort Nelson showcases one of the world’s finest collections of artillery and cannon, from across the ages and from all corners of the globe.

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To find Fort Nelson, follow the brown Tourist signs from the M27. The Fort is open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm.

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Notes to editors

To find Fort Nelson, follow the brown Tourist signs from the M27. The Fort is open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm.

Download the PDF press release.