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The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

Words:
RIAS Jury

‘A dark, uninhibited, unrestrained and materially intense space’ – Reiach and Hall Architects left as much as possible as found in its renewal of the gallery, winning it a 2024 RIAS Award

The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: Ruth Clark
The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: Ruth Clark

2024 RIAS Award

The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh
Reiach and Hall Architects for The Fruitmarket Gallery
Contract value: £2.4m
GIA: 1,447 m2 
Cost per m2: £1600

Located adjacent to Edinburgh’s Waverley Station, the much-loved Fruitmarket Gallery has been reinvented and enlarged in this latest iteration. Originally a market, the 1930s building was converted to an art gallery by John L Patterson in the 1970s and then radically restructured by Richard Murphy Architects in the early 1990s. It now has new stories to tell following the work of Reiach and Hall, which was appointed in 2018 to retain, refurbish and recalibrate the original gallery while simultaneously extending into the adjacent warehouse to create new space and a longer street frontage. The resulting intervention creates an ensemble of spaces that express a contemporary architectural spirit of reuse and openness, challenging established norms as to how art can be displayed and received.   

  • The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: Ruth Clark
    The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: Ruth Clark
  • The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: broad daylight
    The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: broad daylight
  • The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: broad daylight
    The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: broad daylight
  • The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: broad daylight
    The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: broad daylight
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The works to the existing building gently and faithfully build on the rich architectural language of the existing ‘white-cube’ 1990s gallery. Subtle modifications and renewal include re-organising the entrance sequence, relocating the lift and replacing the staircase alongside new roof glazing, renewal and alterations to wall finishes, and new services installations.

The extension into the neighbouring building offered the architect an entirely different set of spaces and opportunities, both architecturally and in terms of how art is conceived, displayed, performed and experienced. The dignified market building had experienced many ‘difficult’ lives, most recently as a nightclub. Reiach & Hall chose to purge the interior in search of the original 1889 warehouse. This led to a process of what the architect called ‘excavating the space’ and leaving as much as possible as found. The result is a rich tangle of structure, rough materials, brick, concrete and steel – a dark, uninhibited, unrestrained and materially intense space.

  • The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: Ruth Clark
    The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: Ruth Clark
  • The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: broad daylight
    The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: broad daylight
  • The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: Ruth Clark
    The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: Ruth Clark
  • The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: broad daylight
    The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: broad daylight
  • The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: broad daylight
    The Fruitmarket Gallery. Credit: broad daylight
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The jury was impressed by the clarity of the narrative behind the project, the rigour with which each gallery was considered and implemented and how well the architect had worked with an inspirational client team to develop a clear agenda for two very different spaces for exhibiting and experiencing art.

Alongside an extended active shopfront, Reiach and Hall’s intervention creates an ensemble of spaces that express a contemporary architectural spirit of reuse and openness, challenging established norms as to how art can be displayed and received. 

See the rest of the RIAS winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here

Credits

Contractor Clark Contracts
Structural engineer Narro
Environmental/M&E engineer Max Fordham
Quantity surveyor/cost consultant Gardiner & Theobald

Credit: Reiach and Hall Architects
Credit: Reiach and Hall Architects
Credit: Reiach and Hall Architects
Credit: Reiach and Hall Architects
Credit: Reiach and Hall Architects
Credit: Reiach and Hall Architects

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