Radical and sensitive conservation approach
Caruso St John Architects for Damien Hirst
Contract value: £25m
Internal area: 3,386m²
Newport Street Gallery has involved the conversion of a grouping of Victorian listed buildings that were formerly theatre scenery workshops, now flanked at either end by new buildings. The five buildings’ floors are now continuous, allowing them to be used flexibly to accommodate large and small exhibitions. There are three large galleries on the two main floors, stretching in a line from one end of the building to the other.
A radical and sensitive conservation approach draws on the qualities of the host building and the potential of the new programme. Internal restructuring is forthright and unsentimental, giving a powerful and coherent set of gallery rooms that are able to host ambitious large shows. Materiality and detailing are exquisite, with outrageously virtuosic staircases, achieving a strong sense of craftsmanship using contemporary technologies.
As a street, the collection of five buildings is beautifully curated, pulled together by the forthright brick treatment, yet expressive of their individuality. The usage and twisting of the familiar is evident in the spiky saw-tooth roof but also in the use of fletton bricks – a language recalling the raw backstage of London industrial hinterland.