1-5 Cromwell Place

The Brief

The continued growth in the art market and corresponding demand for space from specialist galleries coupled with steep rent rises in London’s West End gave shape to the development of a contemporary shared working, sales and exhibition space for London’s gallery operators in west London.

The project brief was to retain and refurbish a row of 5 grade-II listed early-Victorian Italianate townhouses to create a contemporary gallery space with basement art storage and courtyards. Lettable area was added to the sensitively restored buildings through the addition of a rear extension and connecting glass bridge.

The focus of the client’s sustainability brief was to extend the life of these previously under-used buildings and to equip them with energy efficient services. Although their listed status prohibited upgrades to the original building fabric, internally the spaces are now naturally ventilated and have been fitted with a high-efficiency electric heating system and low energy lighting with occupancy and daylight controls. An air-source heat pump provides heat to the extension, and an air-handling unit incorporates packaged heating, cooling, and humidity control and heat recovery.

Client

South Kensington Estates

Location

London SW7

Architect

Buckley Gray Yeoman

Size

45,000 ft²

Sector

  • Arts

Services

  • Project Management
  • Health & Safety (CDM)

The Challenge

Built on a tight island site and bounded by a TfL Red Route, the excavation of the basement and construction of the new glass bridge and gallery had to be carefully planned and phased in line with the sensitive negotiation with the neighbouring properties. The relationships and budgetary constraints of the freeholder (the landlord) and the leaseholder (the tenant) were carefully addressed and balanced to achieve an outcome that was in line with all stakeholders aspirations. The project was completed and handed over in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, which created a further set of challenges for the project team.

The Outcome

The project has created a unique pay-for-what-you-need arts space where galleries, collectors, dealers, curators and arts professionals can collaborate and flourish. The gradation of increasing environmental control suits the spaces’ uses; from the townhouse galleries to the bright and airy but climate-regulated pavilion, which is used to display more sensitive artworks, to the stable and tightly climate-controlled basement archive.

The project received a RIBA London Award 2022, with the judges commenting that:

The project received a RIBA London 2022 award.

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Column free space
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Grade II Listed buildings
"The concept is innovative, anticipating the changing needs of this expanding sector… [and]… successfully combined well-executed new interventions alongside sensitively restored existing spaces."
RIBA Judges' comments

Other Projects We’ve Completed Include

BAFTA

Newport Street Gallery

Hauser & Wirth Somerset