Epping Forest District Museum\

Reinventing a much-loved local museum

This popular local museum has been restored and reconfigured to create a home for the district’s eclectic collection of artifacts.

The Challenge

Epping Forest District Museum occupies three conjoined buildings on Sun Street in Waltham Abbey, two of which are listed. No. 41 Sun Street dates back to the Tudor period, and no. 38 is originally Georgian with Victorian/ Edwardian alterations. The museum had no identity, accessible only through the public library, and was limited by the fact that those collections not on display are stored in archives off-site. The challenge was to create an up-to-date museum and exhibition space within the limitations of the existing buildings.

“I just wanted to take this opportunity to compliment Hawkins\Brown for their fantastic hard working, collaborative attitude and ethos.”

Mustafa Ulla, Operations Director at Coniston Limited (Contractor)

The Big Idea

Working with exhibition designers, Outside Studios, our designs consolidated the museum’s functions onto one site, by acquiring additional space within one of the buildings. The archive collection, education room and curatorial workspace are visible from the main galleries through interconnecting windows. The original Tudor entrance is reinstated, improving the visitor experience as well as the museum’s presence on the street. Step free access has been achieved by aligning the ground floors across the buildings, and the sensitive inclusion of a passenger lift.

Working from the inside Out

39 and 41 Sun Street have a wealth of historic features, dating from various periods in their evolution and remodelling. However, as the museum has developed organically over the last 30 years, many of these features were subsumed or overpowered by layers of signage, services, and exhibition displays. This project presents an opportunity to reveal, highlight and celebrate aspects of the existing buildings so that they are able to become exhibits in their own right and clearly demonstrate the history of the buildings.

When the lift pit was being excavated the remains of a horse’s head was discovered.

Project Summary

Project Team

Morph Structures


  • BD Architect of the Year Awards 2018 - Public Building Architect of the Year - Shortlisted
  • Civic Trust Awards 2017 - Regional - Finalist
  • AJ Retrofit Awards 2016 - Cultural Buildings Award - Visitor Centre, Libraries & Museums - Shortlisted

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