As previously said, here I am again to talk some more about architecture. It is not about my new home-city Stockholm, but it is about London again! In fact, it does seem like I am having some hard times to stay away from the Big Smoke. In February I had the pleasure to visit the stunning art gallery designed by Caruso St John Architects and privately commissioned by renowned artist Damien Hirst to share with the public his own art collections.
Me and my fellow photographer Giulio (please have a look to his amazing work here!) had the pleasure to speak with a nice man working into the Art Gallery Shop (a small art gallery by itself to be truth), and he told us that Mr. Hirst was very keen in having a public art gallery which was as free as the museums he used to visit as a child. I do think it is admirable that the Gallery is in fact free entry.
The building is beautifully designed and executed, with great attention to detail, proportions and use of materials. What hits me the most, it is the integration of the new within the old industrial factories. The recent intervention closes up the two final corners of the entire block, the transition in facade so smoothly made to merge the different decades with no efforts at all.
The first new section is the most regular of the block; this regularity helps to give a better pace to the existing windows of buildings two and three. In the final corner, the openings stay regular and connect to the rest, although the upper ending has a geometrical twist, which stress the contemporaneity of this architecture.
It is definitely the sapient use of the bricks to help this facade coming alive: first in the basement black/dark ones which gives an extra “classical” proportions to the whole; secondly in the well balanced color match between old and new materials: and thirdly in the contemporary use of the bricks in the upper pointed light wells.
As I mentioned before, the building is perfectly detailed and its “simplistic” shapes enlightened by perfect paces in each gap and encounter between materials: in the picture below an example of this in the “steel meets bricks” detail. You can also see the beautiful light red shade and texture of the new bricks.
The insides are no less interesting and enjoyable than the outsides. The interiors are minimal and very open, as suits to a contemporary art gallery, the light wells brings indirect sunlight into the upper rooms, leaving the exhibits to be at the center of attentions.
The space are smartly used during the exhibitions: like in the current Gavin Turk monograph, where the huge three story space room is used to exhibit a small histrionic fake of an English Heritage blue plaque, in its standard 50 x 50 dimensions. This work was part of Turk’s first final show at the end of its three year master degrees. It states: “Borough of Kensington – Gavin Turk Sculptor – Worked here 1989-1991”. More info on the current exhibition on this interesting article on Look up London.
The upper and basement floor are connected by elegant white staircases with warm timber steps; most of them are spirals with a changeable geometry, while the one closer to the main entrance it is a platform staircase. All the vertical connections are well curated, included the seemingly out of scale elevator.
An interesting space is also the restaurant cafe’ “the pharmacy” with extremely curated “themed” interiors, where even the waitress took our orders by writing with a fake syringe pen. I personally would have liked it a bit more minimal and I would have cut out some of the details (like the butterflies decor which I found to be misplaced), however the space keeps it funky and enjoyable for a visit.
In conclusion, if you are planning a trip to London do include the Newport Street Gallery in your architectural itinerary and if you are a Londoner, I hope you have fun visiting it soon!
What do you think of my opinions? Have you visited the art gallery and liked it? Leave me a comment below and partecipate to the discussion!
PS. A final thank you to Giulio who took these fantastic picture and allow me to use it for the post blog!