Brooklands Museum Aircraft Factory and Racetrack Revival

© David Lankester

Architect
Thomas Ford & Partners

Structural Engineer
Alan Baxter Ltd

Steelwork Contractor
Ainscough Industrial

Main Contractor
Brymor Construction Ltd

Client
Brooklands Museum

Brooklands is the birthplace of British motorsport and aviation, and the home of many remarkable engineering and technological achievements throughout the 20th Century. Over the past three years, Brooklands has seen another unique engineering achievement – the successful relocation and refurbishment of the 78-year- old, Grade II listed, Bellman Hangar to reinstate key surviving elements of the original motor racetrack.

The project also included the construction of a new Flight Shed building to house some of the Museum’s expanding aircraft collection, together with workshops and archive facilities. The hangar was re-clad with new profiled steel cladding that matched the original profile externally, but incorporated insulation to provide enhanced environmental conditions inside. As part of the project, a major new exhibition celebrating the history of aircraft manufacture was created within it.

Analysis of the structure showed that there was a weakness in the haunch connection, which could be overstressed in high winds particularly when the hangar doors were open, creating a dominant opening. Low key strengthening works to the haunches were developed, which did not fundamentally affect the nature or appearance of the structure. The repairs are expressed through the use of different section profiles and colours to distinguish new from original elements.

Careful dismantling was undertaken to avoid damaging the existing components of the building. The components were then individually tagged to define their location and orientation to make sure that all the components would fit back together again in the same locations. Once transported to the steelwork contractor’s factory, each element was sand blasted to remove the many layers of old paint and reveal the extent of any damage or corrosion. Where major damage or corrosion was found, elements were repaired to match the original structure. The steelwork was then re-painted and carefully transported back to site for re-erection.

In addition to the re-erection of the hangar, a free-standing mezzanine was designed within the hangar to increase the exhibition space. This mezzanine also included a bridge across to the adjacent Flight Shed, linking the two buildings without the need for extensive alterations to the Bellman Hangar.

The project was successfully completed and opened in November 2017. It is a resounding testament to the flexibility and durability of steel design, both in its original concept and in how it can be sustainably and sympathetically adapted and re-used many years after its original design life has been exceeded.

Judges’ Comment

This project is a testament to the adaptability of steel construction and the care with which the project team managed the task of dismantling the old hangar, refurbishing individual components and re-assembling the structure on a nearby site, providing the ideal accommodation for the museum display.