Plans by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid for the renovation and development of The Magazine building in Kensington Gardens, to become the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, have been granted permission by Westminster Council.
The Serpentine Sackler Gallery, situated a stone's throw from the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens will bring a unique listed building into public use for the first time in its 206-year history, providing a new cultural destination and landmark for London. The Gallery is named after Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler, whose Foundation has made the project possible through the largest single gift received by the Serpentine Gallery in its 41-year history.
The restoration and extension will offer nearly 900 square meters of galleries and social space. The adjoining extension will be used as a café/restaurant, creating a permanent architectural landmark in the heart of London.
Westminster Council commended the designs in their report: ''The proposals will enable an important listed building, in a highly sensitive landscape setting, to be refurbished and brought into public use, and will enhance Westminster's role as a major cultural destination. It is an overwhelming opportunity to enhance the significance and re-establish a more formal landscape setting of this currently partly redundant and undervalued heritage asset and would provide a national public benefit.''
Julia Peyton-Jones, Director and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of the Serpentine Gallery said: ''We are delighted that Zaha Hadid's visionary designs for the Serpentine Sackler Gallery will be realised here in the heart of London. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for the Gallery to create an exciting new platform for contemporary culture for the UK and beyond.''
Zaha Hadid, Director, Zaha Hadid Architects said: ''I am absolutely delighted the plans have been granted permission. This is an important milestone for the project that allows the Serpentine Gallery to further develop its acclaimed cultural programmes. I would like to thank all those whose hard work has made this possible both at Westminster Council and the Serpentine Gallery.''
Responding to the Grade II listed building and the Grade I listed landscape, Zaha Hadid has designed a light and transparent extension for the Serpentine Sackler Gallery to be used as a café/restaurant and social space. This will complement the historic structure, which will be refurbished and completed with a new north wing that emphasises the oldest part of the building --- the former powder store --- as a central citadel. The modern extension will be added to the west, a contemporary lightweight partner to the original building's classical weight.
Covered by a lightweight tensile membrane, the extension compliments rather than competes with the main building. The structure is defined by a single roof surface that playfully undulates, at times dipping down to touch the ground before rising up again. Roof lights punctuate the peaks of the surface, bringing natural light into the interior. The surrounding grounds, created by the landscape designers Gross Max, also take on an undulating form. Protected trees and hedges, as well as the historic ha-ha, will be retained.
The Serpentine Sackler Gallery will present the best in emerging international talent across all art forms, complementing the existing programme at the Serpentine Gallery. Commissioning new works, public engagement and cultural learning will be at the heart of its programmes. Like the Serpentine Gallery, it will be free of charge and accessible to all.
The Magazine building - its history and its site
Of exceptional historical and architectural interest, The Magazine was built in 1805, in the style of a Palladian villa, as a gunpowder depot for the army in the event of a 'foreign invasion or popular uprising', but has not housed munitions for the last 50 years. It occupies a prominent position on West Carriage Drive, running from Exhibition Road to Bayswater Road. Kensington Gardens is an eighteenth-century park and combines wide-open spaces with elegant tree-lined avenues. Home of Peter Pan in statue form, the park also houses Kensington Palace, the Albert Memorial and the popular Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground.
The Royal Parks extended an invitation for proposals for potential future use of The Magazine building in August 2009. Three bidders were shortlisted, all proposing galleries, but it was to the Serpentine Gallery that a 25-year licence was awarded for the Serpentine Sackler Gallery.
The Serpentine Sackler Gallery programme
Open daily, with free admission for all, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery will present the stars of tomorrow in art, architecture, dance, design, fashion, film, literature, music, performance and technology. Diverse audiences will be able to engage with every aspect of contemporary culture through exhibitions, installations, performances and special commissions. New partnerships will be forged between the arts, creative industries, sciences and education in this test-site for new ideas.
The Magazine in Kensington Gardens is located on West Carriage Drive, just north of the Serpentine Bridge. For more info please refer to this detailed map of the park.
Serpentine Sackler Gallery
Zaha Hadid Architects
© Serpentine Gallery
The Royal Parks' Magazine Building, to become The Serpentine Sackler Gallery
Kensington Gardens, London
Photo: John Offenbach
© The Royal Parks and Serpentine Gallery