Saturday, 19 May 2012
The Photographers’ Gallery Unveils New Home Designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects
The Photographers’ Gallery unveiled its new home for international and British photography in London’s Soho on Saturday 19 May 2012. Award-winning Irish architects O’Donnell + Tuomey were commissioned to redevelop the gallery in 2007 and construction on the building began in Autumn 2010. The transformed building features a two storey extension that will double the size of the previous exhibition space.
A sculpted terrazzo entrance with an open plan design connects the ground-level café and lower-ground bookshop to the street, creating a welcoming meeting place and lively hub for visitors. A centrepiece of the ground floor is The Wall, a digital display which will present guest-curated projects, artist commissions and collaborative photographic work involving the public.
Extending over a further five floors, the original Victorian red-brick warehouse is linked to a modern steel-framed extension through an external sleeve of black render, terrazzo and sustainably sourced Angelim Pedra wood. The architects have created numerous links between exterior and interior, punctuating the building with large feature windows which function as apertures onto the urban realm around Oxford Street.
A new environmentally-controlled floor will create opportunities to show more work from archives and museum collections and higher ceilings in the top floor galleries will provide dynamic spaces for large-scale and moving image works.
Situated at the heart of the building between the two main exhibition spaces is the Eranda Studio. Placing an emphasis on the Gallery’s education programme, this floor will feature a full schedule of talks, workshops and events. Introducing permanent elements to the programme, the Eranda Studio includes a camera obscura and a Study Room where the public is able to access an archive of material related to exhibitions and events which have taken place since the Gallery was established in 1971. Also featured on this floor is Touchstone, a quarterly display of a single, groundbreaking photograph.
New spaces for the bookshop, print sales room and café complement the enhanced facilities for the public programme. The bookshop offers the latest releases as well as hard-to-find art and photography titles and a range of niche cameras. The print sales room sees the relaunch of The Photographers’ Gallery Editions, in which a world-renowned photographer donates a limited-edition print of their work to benefit the Gallery’s public programmes. The new street level café is run in partnership with Lina Stores, the oldest family-run delicatessen in Soho, and boasts an Italian menu of freshly-made dishes and baked goods.
A new visual identity for the Gallery has been created by UK design practice North. Inspired in part by the building’s architectural design, this new visual identity communicates the Gallery’s vision both within the building and beyond.
Photographs are by Dennis Gilbert