The long awaited renovation for one of my favourite galleries in London, the Photographer's Gallery is officially opening today. Closed for 18months while the new site was renovated, I think the concenus is that it was much missed.
The Photographers' Gallery is the largest public gallery in London dedicated to photography. From the latest emerging talent, to historical archives and established artists.
Construction started in Autumn 2010 on the transformation of the building on Ramillies Street, London. The original plan was to demolish a newly-acquired a former warehouse on Ramillies Street and construct a purpose-built facility. Economic concerns curtailed that idea, so the Gallery, working with award-winning Irish architects O’Donnell and Tuomey, decided in 2009 to move anyway and renovate.
The building features three dedicated floors of gallery spaces. This 100% increase in exhibition space will allow the Gallery to showcase established and high-profile artists alongside emerging photographic talent from around the world.
Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey established O'Donnell + Tuomey in 1988. The practice has developed an international reputation for cultural, social and educational buildings.
At ground level, the former reception area has been converted into a cafe (operated by the gallery’s Soho neighbour, Italian deli Lina Stores).
Part of the facade is cut away and glazed to reveal the cafe and bar at ground level, and a digital wall in the reception area will present a changing selection of projects from both professional photographers and the public. The ground floor is clad in black polished terrazzo and hardwood panels that match the thickness of the new rendered walls, while large windows with matching hardwood frames on the upper levels afford views towards nearby Oxford Street and Soho.
The building’s first floor (formerly the cafe & bookshop) has been converted into offices, while the second floor contains an educational study room and a space for lectures and talks, which includes a camera obscura pointing out onto the street below.
The third floor (formerly offices) is now a climate- and light-controlled gallery space. Above this are the two new galleries.
The fifth floor has high ceilings and a huge full length window on the north side, with a view onto Oxford Street and Fitzrovia. It also affords a view of the currently blank brick walls on the opposite side of Ramillies Street, which the Gallery has obtained permission to hang photographs on. The bookshop and print sales have moved to an expanded space in the basement.
Whilst most exhibitions will remain free, as a condition of Arts Council funding, there will be some paid exhibitions.