Newport Street Gallery, the conversion of almost an entire street of listed industrial buildings in south London into a free public gallery for artist Damien Hirst’s private art collection, has won the coveted 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best new building.
This private gallery in Vauxhall has involved the conversion of an extraordinary terrace of listed industrial buildings, that were formerly theatre carpentry and scenery painting workshops. The gallery forms the whole length of the street, with the three listed Victorian buildings flanked at either end by new buildings. The ground and upper floors within the five buildings are continuous, allowing them to be used flexibly in many combinations, to accommodate both large and small exhibitions. There are 3 large galleries on each of the two floors, stretching in a line from one end of the building to the other. The two gallery levels are connected by new spiral staircases and a large lift.
Along Newport Street and facing to the railway, the unusual proportions of the Victorian workshops, with their groups of low level windows and high blank walls above, have been continued in the design of the new buildings. The new facades are made with a hard pale red brick that closely matches the surface of the listed buildings. The five buildings next to each other, all different but obviously related, make a sheer and impressive street elevation.
The scheme includes a restaurant and administrative offices for the gallery. The building shows exhibitions of the client’s extensive collection of contemporary art, and is open to the public for free.