About jillshonk

Access & Learning Leader, Gloucestershire Archives

Blogging a Building (13)

 

FullColour_Landscape

It’s September and time for a new entry in our Blogging a Building log, charting the journey to create onsite facilities for Gloucestershire Heritage Hub.

The crew of Starship ‘For the Record’ (aka the project team developing the Heritage Hub) spent the latter half of the summer in space dock, busily making key interior design decisions, kick starting activities to make art installations and liaising with builders to clear the critical path for our onward travel.  And I’m pleased to report we’re flying again, having left our mooring and increased our engine speed from low-level thrust to warp.

Making the right interior design choices for a public building takes time. We need to create an environment that works for everyone and are grateful to have expert volunteer, Cherry Knott advising us.  After much deliberation we settled on a colour palette that reflects the Gloucestershire flag: shades of blues and greens for walls and floors, and a contrasting light taupe for door surrounds.  We want to introduce a bit of fun too so are thinking of using the colours in the Heritage Hub logo (featured at the top of this post) to jazz up the building’s industrial-looking pillars.  We’d also like to mount some giant floor-to-ceiling images depicting Gloucestershire landscapes.  The next step is for our architects to load these choices and ideas into their whizzy software and take the project’s Stakeholders Advisory Board members on a virtual tour to see how everything would look.  We’ll let you know how this goes.

Colour selections for Heritage Hub interior

Mock up ‘ideas board’ with provisional choices for wall  and floor coverings

We have four artists working on Arts Council England-funded installations for the onsite Hub: Stroud-based illustrator, Imogen Harvey Lewis is creating a donor tree for the new reception area and an external mural celebrating Gloucester through the ages; Cheltenham-based wood sculptor, Natasha Houseago is crafting a powerful vertical sculpture for the garden; artists from Berkeley-based Tomato Jack Arts are fashioning a mosaic timeline celebrating 800 years of Gloucestershire’s history, also to be displayed in the garden area; and Midlands-based textile artist Julia O’Connell is producing ‘Inspired by Gloucestershire’ wall hangings for the new volunteer workshop area and Gloucestershire Police Archive room.  The artists will be working with a diverse range of community groups to develop their respective installations and the finished works will be part of a suite of interpretive displays that celebrate our historic county.

There’s also an awful lot involved in masterminding the building project.  From the hundreds of decisions associated with the electrical specification to securing the right supplies and contractors for specialist construction work, there’s so much to consider.  And, as we’ve discovered, a single hiccup in the supply chain can bring things to a grinding halt.  This was the case when our builders tried to procure insulation for the three new strongrooms they’re erecting.  The insulation needs to be a particular type to meet the Archives Accreditation standard and we ended up waiting a long time for it.  This is because there are only two suppliers worldwide and one of them recently lost its premises to a fire.  Thankfully we’ve managed to secure what we need , works have recommenced and we now have dates for moving in: mid December for the soft launch of the main Hub building housing the new Archives’ research room, Family History Centre and Gloucestershire Police Archive room, and May 2018 for the soft launch of the new reception area and Frith Training Room.  We’ll be posting customer information about this on the Archives’ website at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/archives

There’s one final piece of news to share.  From now on my colleagues, Kim Kenny, Anthony Phillips and Jenny Rutland will be bringing the latest news from the bridge.  As for me, I’m beaming over to Gloucester City Council to become Head of Cultural and Trading Services.  I’m sad to be leaving Gloucestershire Archives at such an exciting time but delighted my new role will allow me to stay in the growing Heritage Hub network.  So I’ll still be helping to gather, keep and share the documented heritage of historic Gloucestershire.  ‘Just focussing on the records of its county town, the city of Gloucester.

Live long and prosper!

JS ID photo 2016

Jill Shonk

Access & Learning Leader

FullColour_GA

Blogging a Building (11)

 

FullColour_Landscape

Since April, the Heritage Hub site – both outside and in – has been a hive of activity.

Externally, we’ve been creating firm foundations.  The 26 tonne piling rig shown in the images below arrived on the back of a lorry from Devon.  It drilled 87 piles 10 metres deep to underpin our new strong rooms in a matter of days. Continue reading

Blogging a Building (10)

There are aliens and strange structures just metres from my desk. But don’t be alarmed.  I haven’t been beamed from Starship Enterprise to a parallel universe!  The strangers are just asbestos removal experts – back for a second visit.  This time they’re making the under-floor spaces for the new Heritage Hub safe, ready for remodelling work.  And it’s all happening behind closed doors – so there’s no danger.

Meanwhile, Archives staff have been celebrating some good news. The Local Government Association has awarded us £15,000 to develop online customer registration arrangements and streamline our online document ordering system.  These improvements should make it quicker and easier for everyone to access original documents and minimise any queuing times at the new Heritage Hub reception.  Well done to our Digital Preservation & Access Officer, Claire Collins for leading the way on the successful bid!

JS ID photo 2016

Jill Shonk

Access & Learning Leader

Blogging a Building (9)

Well, our planned ‘hard hat’ tours of the construction and refurbishment site that’s to become the new onsite Heritage Hub have gone well.  And the learning has been two-way: project stakeholders have been able to glimpse the spaces to come and we have discovered more about the history of our building.

The new evidence of our building’s past comes from two sources.  Firstly, the builders discovered a window above the original front entrance.  It was hiding above an artificial ceiling that that’s been removed in order to change the room layout.  Here it is:

Winsow above front door 20170426

This space will eventually become an office area for Gloucestershire Family History Society volunteers.  The window can be their secret as it’ll be hidden behind a new ceiling by the time they take up residence there.

The second piece of evidence came from a lovely lady, Pam Brogan who took part in one of our tours.  We discovered the experience was actually a trip down memory lane for her, as she was a former pupil of Kingsholm School, the original occupant of our premises.  And she was kind enough to share a photo of herself with her infant school friends, and let us feature it here.  She told us it was taken in the 1940s and the children and their teachers are shown in front of an air raid shelter.

Thanks, Pam, it’s great to be piecing together the history of our building and we’re glad you enjoyed your evening with us!

Do get in touch if you’re reading this and have your own memories of Kingsholm School, as we’d like to use these as part of the interpretive displays (stories about Gloucestershire, Gloucester and Kingsholm) in the Heritage Hub.

JS ID photo 2016

Jill Shonk

Access & Learning Leader

Blogging a Building (8)

The dust has settled after the first stages of our building works and this has been another relatively quiet week, other than the removal of some air ducts.  The lull is down to the discovery of  some previously unidentified asbestos and we need to follow a proper process for removing this.  But there’s always a bright side and the current waiting game presents an ideal opportunity for the site tours we were hoping to offer.

First in the queue for tours are our ‘For the Record’ project partners.  And we began yesterday by showing a few key members of the Friends of Gloucestershire Archives around.  The photo below shows us in what’s going to be the new Heritage Hub reception area, wearing our Mickey Mouse shoes and egg head hats, and looking at the architects plans to get a better idea of what the spaces are going to look like.

FoGA tour 20160412

Left to right: Jill Shonk, Heather Forbes, Liz Jack, Stephen Haygarth and Hilary Haygarth.

We plan to offer bookable tours to anyone who’s interested later on in the building programme.  If you come along we hope that you, like us, will be excited by what’s happening!

JS ID photo 2016

Jill Shonk

Access & Learning Leader

 

Blogging a Building (7)

This week our builders have been busying themselves with behind the scenes arrangements  to progress the next stages of construction.  So I thought you might like to look ahead with me, to get a taste of what the Heritage Hub is going to be like when it’s finished.

Firstly, hot off the press, here’s the latest image of how it’s going to look.  Very smart!

Quattro building image

We want the inside to be stylish too, and are looking forward to receiving the draft mood boards soon.  These will help us to consider the look and feel of the internal spaces, and to make good interior design choices, bearing everyone’s needs in mind.

Like our builders, we too have been making behind the scenes plans.  But ours are about adorning the building and its surrounding site.  There are two strands to these: internal and external interpretive displays that reveal a potted history of the historic county of Gloucestershire’s cultural and natural heritage; and, on a functional level, information sharing media and signage that will show visitors what the Heritage Hub has to offer.  We’ll be working with stakeholders and community groups to develop these over the coming months.  And we’re eagerly waiting to hear if our allied bid to Arts Council England has been successful, as it would allow us to include more art installations as part of our storytelling.  We should know the outcome in mid May.  ‘Fingers crossed!

JS ID photo 2016

Jill Shonk

Access & Learning Leader