The Layered Gallery by Gianni Botsford Architects | Yellowtrace

The Layered Gallery by Gianni Botsford Architects | Yellowtrace

The Layered Gallery by Gianni Botsford Architects | Yellowtrace

The Layered Gallery by Gianni Botsford Architects | Yellowtrace

The Layered Gallery by Gianni Botsford Architects | Yellowtrace

The Layered Gallery by Gianni Botsford Architects | Yellowtrace

 

The Layered Gallery is aptly named, for layered it most certainly is. It is an unlikely blend of Moroccan inspired architectural screens and other layers of steel framing. The external layer is more akin to a Piet Mondrian painting, with his vivid composition of geometric black lines. However, instead of insertions of yellow, red and blue paint, this steel structure of squares and rectangles are either bare to the elements or further in, on another layer, inserted with glass, with clever rectilinear red blinds that pull down over the geometric outer screen.

Located in central London, the gallery houses a private collection of photographs, prints, pastels and lithographs. Gianni Botsford Architects have taken this five-storey building and created a retreat and a place to contemplate art. This has been achieved by adding a new elevation to the building bringing both light to the space and life, by the introduction of an inner garden courtyard.

There is an artistic beauty in and of itself that the layered screens provide. The outer screen is purely structural and made of Corten, or ‘weathering’ steel. The next layer is again made from Corten framing but this one is glazed. Inside against the glazing you will find the red blinds. Not merely a nod to the Piet Mondrian painting, these inserts of red protect the collection of artworks. Finally, what feels very Moroccan in origin are the internal hanging screens on rails, also made from the weathering steel, used for storing and viewing the collection. The openings within the two outer screens create a filigree elevation reinforcing the relationship between the interior and the exterior spaces.

 

The Layered Gallery by Gianni Botsford Architects | Yellowtrace

The Layered Gallery by Gianni Botsford Architects | Yellowtrace

The Layered Gallery by Gianni Botsford Architects | Yellowtrace

The Layered Gallery by Gianni Botsford Architects | Yellowtrace

 

What softens this steely layering is the planting below. Climbing vines growing from the courtyard, wrap themselves around the base of the elevation, their fine tendrils reach up towards the gallery screens, pulling themselves higher, softening the elevation with their lush, green beauty.

Corten has been widely used as a material in this space. Even the cabinetry is clothed in it. Stark up against the existing, exposed brick wall, the cabinet of steel adds an imposing element. Sheets of Corten, arranged in geometric shapes, mimic albeit in an opaque way, the structural geometry of the outer screens. A surprise element is the cleverly, concealed, folding toilet within. “A homage to the traditional outside lavatory, or a play, perhaps on Duchamp’s “Fountain”, this gesture adds a sense of surprise and transformation,” noted the architects.

On the lower ground level, the architects have placed an outdoor kitchen. On the first floor, within the Gallery itself, is an inviting viewing bench thoughtfully placed in a sun trap. It beckons the art lovers to sit and muse. Museum quality UV- treated glazing has been used throughout to protect the collection from excessive light. However, the architects went to lengths to avoid the hermetic effects that can result from an environment designed purely to protect and conserve its contents. The filigree quality of the screens is a key component in negating this effect.

The architects liken the building to a tree, because its structure has two load-bearing columns in the centre with lighter membranes branching out. Trees of course are layered structures that shift with changes in weather. The Layered Gallery with the variation in light penetrating the space, reflections on its glass panels and the movement of the internal screens has an organic shifting that reflects, at least philosophically, the tree-like qualities of protection, age and beauty.

 


 

[Images courtesy of Gianni Botsford Architects. Photography by Luigi Parise.]

 

About The Author

Susanna McArdle
Contributor

Susanna has a background in Interior Architecture and a passion for writing. Based in Sydney, she has worked both in Asia and Australia designing. An avid writer, it’s hard to know what she prefers more, stringing words together or creating spaces. But one thing she does know, is that she loves doing the both together.

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