Five Grade II-listed houses opposite South Kensington’s National History Museum will be turned into a new art hub, redrawing London’s gallery map.
Art Dubai-founder John Martin is behind the conversion of the stucco-fronted houses on Cromwell Place. He has enlisted design practice BuckleyGrayYeoman to turn them into a space for 30 fine art galleries, available for flexible short and long term rent.
BGY’s design for the hybrid scheme covers 35,000 sq ft, and includes office spaces, viewing rooms and art storage, as well as exhibition space – all on site. This ‘hybrid’ approach is a response to rising rents in the capital, which has priced commercial galleries out of areas like Mayfair.
‘The conventional gallery model is hugely inefficient,’ he explained. ‘Many commercial galleries do 50 per cent of their business at art fairs, so having a permanent gallery just increases overheads.’
While the existing period buildings will be treated with a light hand, the later extensions at the rear will be removed and replaced by a new pavilion and courtyard designed by the practice. This new space will house larger-scale exhibitions.
Martin adds: ‘There are brilliant galleries doing great work in Belfast, Edinburgh, all around the country, which can’t afford to set up a permanent base in London. This could level the playing field and there are private collectors who could use it to set up short-term shows.’
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