MAGNA Science Centre, Rotherham (2001)
The shell of the building and much of the original machinery were retained to give visitors a picture of how the steel works operated. In addition, four new pavilions were built, each corresponding to one of the four elements defined by Aristotle: earth, fire, water and air. Artefacts from the building’s past were retained as evocative sculptures, while video walls recalled the human story of steel making.
The scheme was subsequently criticised for its disappointing visitor numbers and several issues were identified. First, applicants for lottery funding are all but obliged to exaggerate anticipated visitor numbers to secure funding. Second, as any director of a visitor attraction will know, attendance invariably falls after the initial six-to-12-month honeymoon period (the majority of people only ever make one visit to a venue). Third was the issue of scale.
As it is, the exterior is remarkably little changed from the time when this was the most productive steelworks in the country.
Magna was the venue for the 2011 RIBA Stirling Prize Dinner.
Architects: Wilkinson Eyre Architects Ltd
Client: The Magna Trust
Structural Engineers: Mott Macdonald
M&E Engineers: Buro Happold