• Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

Revamp of Venturi Scott Brown’s Nationwide Gallery extension could be “an act of vandalism”

Read Time:6 Minute, 48 Second

Architects, critics and lecturers are involved about Selldorf Architects‘ plans to transform Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown‘s postmodern Sainsbury Wing on the Nationwide Gallery in London.

Plans to overtake Venturi, Scott Brown’s extension to the Nationwide Gallery in central London have been described by detractors as “damagingly harmful”, “an act of vandalism” and a “tepid bathe of the pallid and the well mannered”.

“These proposed alterations could be damagingly harmful – sterilising the unique architectural character of the constructing,” architectural critic Hugh Pearman advised Dezeen.

Alterations “will diminish the supposed drama of the fastidiously orchestrated entrance route”

“Museums want to have the ability to adapt to altering wants over time in fact, and the proposed scheme just isn’t solely about aesthetics, however within the context of the distinctive character of this constructing, the deployment of ubiquitous company, airport concourse aesthetics within the proposed revamp appears lots like an act of vandalism to me,” architect and professor of structure on the College of Westminster Sean Griffiths advised Dezeen.

Selldorf Architects‘ plans, that are on account of be selected this autumn, would see the Sainsbury Wing’s facade up to date with its darkish glass changed with clear panes and the foyer largely remodelled, with ceilings and unique columns eliminated.

“The doorway corridor is influenced by the low-slung ceilings and heavy articulated columns of Aalto buildings – think about the furore if one thing like this was being accomplished to the Finlandia Corridor – that is the UK equal,” continued Griffiths.

Selldorf Architects’ proposal would see the foyer (above) and facade (prime) remodelled

Architectural charity Twentieth Century Society criticised the proposed alterations to the doorway foyer because it says they’d injury the unique architects’ intention for the house.

“We strongly oppose the elimination of the unique rusticated columns within the floor flooring foyer – which might and ought to be retained in any new scheme – and the opening up of this house by eradicating massive components of the floorplate, which is able to diminish the supposed drama of the fastidiously orchestrated entrance route,” stated Twentieth Century Society director Catherine Croft.

College of Zurich professor Stanislaus von Moos, who wrote a monograph on the work of Venturi, Scott Brown, echoed the view that the foyer alterations would injury the constructing’s total idea.

“You possibly can’t take out a component with out making your complete organism fall into items,” he advised Dezeen.

“Selldorf Architects suggest to neutralize the doorway scenario by turning it right into a brightly lit double-height showroom, thereby pulling the rug below the constructing’s processional logic.”

Constructing “most elegant demonstration of Venturi and Scott Brown’s concepts”

Selldorf Architects was chosen to overtake the constructing in collaboration with heritage specialists Purcell in 2021 and its proposals have been topic to 2 public consultations. The gallery is now ready for its planning utility to be accepted or declined.

Opened in 1991, the constructing designed by Venturi and Scott Brown is among the UK’s best-known postmodern buildings and one of many architects’ most influential works.

“The Sainsbury Wing is the clearest, most elegantly and joyfully entire demonstration of Venturi and Scott Brown’s concepts,” defined Drexel College professor and former VSBA principal Nancy Rogo Coach.

“The proposed alteration would radically and irrevocably change the that means and expertise of the Sainsbury Wing at a very susceptible time in its historical past – too outdated to be thought-about up to date and too latest to be considered as historic,” she advised Dezeen.

“Certainly there’s a extra delicate, much less essentially harmful manner to enhance the expertise of holiday makers to the Nationwide Gallery.”

Renovation seems to be “company blandness”

Architectural historian Gillian Darley, who criticised the foyer house in a overview for the Observer newspaper when the constructing opened, additionally took goal on the “blandness” of the proposed renovation.

“If I gave the doorway lobby a thumbs down then as ‘a nasty cellar-like house’ I will be allowed, nay pressured, a rethink confronted with the flimsy, company blandness on supply thirty years on,” she advised Dezeen.

“The muscular dark-into-light has been changed with what the CGIs present as a tepid bathe of the pallid and the well mannered, seemingly supplied with out thought or reciprocity in the direction of the present – no thanks.”

The plan to revamp the constructing kind a part of the gallery’s NG200 challenge to mark its bicentenary in 2024. The renovation will see an espresso bar added to the constructing’s floor flooring and a restaurant on its first flooring, in addition to a seminar room, archival retailer and employees places of work added.

“We have taken on board the views of the varied teams and are reviewing sure components of the scheme within the mild of their feedback,” stated a spokesperson for the Nationwide Gallery.

“We’ll proceed to have ongoing dialogue with various key stakeholders to attain an answer that balances our respect for the present constructing with our must create a Nationwide Gallery that appeals and may adapt to a extra numerous viewers.”

“This impacts on all the very best buildings we’ve got”

Occupying a distinguished location on London’s Trafalgar Sq. alongside the gallery’s unique Nineteenth-century constructing designed by William Wilkins, the Sainsbury Wing extension was Grade I-listed in 2018.

Grade I-listed buildings are deemed to be “of remarkable curiosity” with solely 2.5 per cent of all listed buildings given this stage of safety.

The Sainsbury Wing is among the most up-to-date buildings to be Grade I-listed, and critic Pearman questioned the validity of the system if large-scale alterations are permitted.

“There’s a basic subject at stake right here, and this impacts on all the very best buildings we’ve got – if a Grade I-listed constructing will be knocked about on this manner, then what does the itemizing system imply?” he requested. “

“Does it supply any actual safety in any respect?” he continued. “In my opinion, it ought to be the responsibility of the planning authorities to refuse this utility on these grounds alone.”

Venturi Scott Brown's postmodern Sainsbury Wing at National Gallery in London wins AIA 25 Year Award
The extension is a widely known postmodern constructing. Photograph courtesy of the Nationwide Gallery

The Twentieth Century Society additionally requested whether or not alterations of this scope could be permitted to among the extra historic buildings which are Grade I-listed.

“It is amongst probably the most traditionally and architecturally important buildings in England constructed up to now 40 years,” stated Croft.

“We would like future generations to have the ability to go to the Nationwide Gallery and see a world-class work of postmodern structure, in addition to a surprising assortment of worldwide artwork,” she continued. “It is exhausting to think about any Grade I-listed constructing of an ancient times – not to mention that of a nationwide establishment – being subjected to such remedy.”

“It is liked and loathed in equal measures”

The Sainsbury Wing has a controversial historical past. The Venturi Scott Brown constructing was the winner of the second competitors for the positioning after the preliminary contest was deserted following an intervention by King Charles III.

King Charles III, who was then Prince Charles, infamously known as the unique successful design by Ahrends, Burton, and Koralek a “monstrous carbuncle”.

“It is liked and loathed in equal measures however that is what’s sensible about it,” stated Griffiths. “Whether or not you adore it or hate it, it is a completely distinctive constructing, in contrast to some other within the UK or the world.”

“It has been stimulating heated debate about structure within the UK for the entire of its existence, from the time the Nineties when solely we at FAT and a handful of others appreciated it, to the current when the reputations of Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi have accurately been rehabilitated,” he continued.

Regardless of its controversial historical past, the constructing is seen as a major work of postmodern structure with the American Institute of Architects bestowing its 25 12 months Award upon the constructing in 2019.

The photographs are courtesy of Selldorf Architects, until in any other case acknowledged.

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