London-based Casper Mueller Kneer Architects recently re-designed the White Cube Bermondsey, the gallery’s third and largest venue in London. More than 5440 m2 of existing 1970s’ warehouse space was transformed to provide exhibition spaces, warehousing, private viewing rooms, an auditorium and a bookshop.
Materially, the industrial character of the building was maintained and enhanced by new additions and modifications. The structure was generally retained, but opened up and substantially modified. A new entrance yard, brought a previously closed off space into the public realm and draws new audiences to the area. Internally the public spaces are arranged along a 60m long street-like long corridor.
There are three principal exhibition areas which differ in dimensions, proportions and lighting conditions: The ‘South Galleries’ provide 780m2 of column free space and act as the main display area. The ‘North Galleries’ are smaller, more experimental in character. ‘9x9x9’ is a centrally located cubic space: the only space penetrating the existing building envelope and flooded with natural light. An auditorium allows the presentation of films and lectures.
The new gallery spaces were inserted as free standing volumes at the heart of the building – shells within a shell. And surrounded by ancillary spaces and service voids. This allows the galleries to be serviced from all sides and be structurally and environmentally self-contained, independent from the existing building.
The lighting design provides a completely even light. Some galleries combine natural and artificial light developed through a white membrane of PVC which gives them a homogenous illumination. All viewing rooms and gallery ceilings allow for varying sub-divisions by temporary walls.