Hugh Broughton is founder and director of Hugh Broughton Architects. Trained at the university of Edinburgh, Hugh set up his practice in 1995. The team is made up of a core of experienced architects who have worked together for many years. Unusually for a small practice, it has a proven track record in two distinct sectors: heritage projects and buildings for extreme and remote environments. During this fascinating Practice visit, Hugh talked about both key aspects of his work.

1. Buildings for Extreme and remote Environments.
Always pushing boundaries, Hugh and his team are considered leaders in designing for the polar regions. Having worked on remote projects such as Halley VI Antarctic research station, Juan Carlos 1 Spanish Antarctic base, and a new health facility on Tristan da Cunha, their latest competition win led to them joining a team to redevelop Scott base, New Zealand’s only Antarctic research station.

Scott Base Redevelopment, Aerial view of the existing base. Antartica, New Zealand


Scott Base Redevelopment, Aurora Ground View. Antartica, New Zealand


Halley VI British Antarctic Research Station


2. Heritage Projects
Hugh talked about the beautiful gallery his Practice designed to house the Portland Collection. A purpose-built gallery for the Cavendish-Bentinck collection at Welbeck, Nottinghamshire.

Cross section through galleries

The Portland Collection is one of the finest accumulations of paintings, sculpture, books, tapestries and furniture in private hands in Britain. It was assembled by the Cavendish-Bentinck family, who has lived at Welbeck Abbey for over 400 years. Historically the majority of items have been privately displayed, but in 2010 the family decided to build a gallery to show the Collection to the public.

Hugh Broughton Architects was selected as architect following a design competition organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants. The brief called for “a new gallery to exhibit fine and decorative arts, which would complement the existing work of the neighbouring Harley Gallery and the historic interiors in the state rooms of the main house”. It also called for “an enhanced visitor experience achieved through creation of a common entrance, improved landscaping and a single design overlay”.

The competition-winning design delivers clarity to a courtyard, which includes the Harley Gallery, Limehouse café and a Farm Shop. Views have been improved by lowering perimeter walls, and finishes have been simplified.

The new gallery is housed within the old walls of the Tan Gallop, a redundant structure which was previously used for training racehorses. Externally, elevations have been crisply detailed in handmade Danish brick, which contrasts with and complements original stone walls. Protruding barrel-vaulted zinc roofs provide a dynamic roofline, evoking silhouettes of the Abbey and hinting at the drama within.

Visitors enter through a steel frame glazed entrance pavilion, which provides a light and airy threshold with clear views on to a line of trees and a 19th century lodge, now the curatorial offices. Within the entry pavilion, the original stone walls of the Gallop have been exposed to view. A limestone-clad reception desk sits in front of three full height windows with views to a mature landscape to the north. Contemporary walls mask a disabled toilet and toplit stairs leading down to other public toilets, staff areas and lockers contained within a basement. Principles of inclusivity guided the design from start to finish.

The first gallery that visitors enter is 22m long with a cycloidal fibrous plaster ceiling set under a barrel vault roof, seemingly cut in half by a full length translucent rooflight, filling the space with diffuse light and creating the perfect environment to display oil portraits. At the far end a doorway leads to a vitrine of gold and silver, creating an alluring termination to views. From this enclosed space visitors emerge into a large gallery, sub-divided into three zones. Two are lit by north lights and one features low ceilings and controlled lighting for the display of miniatures.

Gallery plan

Temperature and humidity are closely controlled and meet Government Indemnity Scheme standards. Air source heat pumps reduce fossil fuel reliance. Electrical demand is met by a remote photovoltaic array to ensure a sustainable energy strategy. The scheme was constructed using traditional procurement and Building Control compliance was monitored by an Approved Inspector.

Valerie Owen Le Vaillant OBE

Master, Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects.