Barnstaple and North Devon Museum

The Long Bridge Wing: Conceptual Social History Gallery and Educational Facilities

Gale & Snowden Architects were selected by North Devon District Council to undertake a concept design study for a new ultra low energy Passivhaus and Healthy Building extension to the Barnstaple and North Devon Museum: the ‘Long Bridge Wing’.

The proposal explores a 500m2 modern extension to the West wing of the existing Victorian Grade II Listed Museum, adjacent to the nationally significant Grade I medieval 'Long Bridge' originally constructed in 1280.

The site was once home to a building of some significance however this was demolished last century, leaving behind leftover space which the new design seeks to heal. At the same time the design seeks to recreate the ‘Gateway to Barnstaple', which was once formed by the previous building on the site and the opposite ‘Bridge Chambers’ building, with the Long Bridge framed between these buildings. The design also addresses the significant historical setting in the centre of an ancient market town, whilst creating a state-of-the-art museum experience.

The proposal includes a double-height atrium space and will incorporate an improved café and a new Social History Gallery, designed to showcase life in North Devon over the past 100 years, displaying such artefacts as a Huxtable plough and the last Barnstaple salmon boat. The proposal also replans the interior of the existing museum to improve visitor circulation through galleries and exhibitions.

450m2 of existing displays and collections will be improved and upgraded to contemporary standards, including the geology, natural history, archaeology and manufacturers of North Devon and Barnstaple. The increase in footprint will also allow for the redisplaying of the Shapland and Petter furniture and Brannam Art Pottery collections, which demonstrate Barnstaple’s importance as a creative manufacturing centre during the Arts and Crafts period.

In addition to the new Social History Gallery, the proposal includes a high-quality temporary exhibition space, improved storage facilities, and fit-for-purpose educational and meeting facilities, all with full disabled access.

The proposed Long Bridge Wing extension will be built to Passivhaus standards and incorporate low energy and healthy building features including:


  • Protection of artifacts from direct UV sunlight
  • Temperature and humidity controls
  • Beneficial solar heat gain
  • Super-insulated – triple glazing and high levels of insulation throughout
  • Non-thermal bridging detailing
  • Natural ventilation
  • Low energy lighting and appliances throughout
  • Healthy building design in accordance with Building Biology principles, e.g. non-VOC and non-chlorine based (non-PVC) materials, organic paints, stains and oils
  • Natural and low embodied energy materials
  • Low water-use design
  • Airtight construction

The images were shown at a public display at the Museum in the summer of 2015. The project received Round 1 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in January 2016, and is currently being progressed towards a Round 2 bid.


More information on the Barnstaple and North Devon Museum can be found on their website here.

Barnstaple and North Devon Museum Project Profile

Barnstaple and North Devon Museum Project Profile

The Long Bridge Wing: Conceptual Social History Gallery and Educational Facilities