Newport Street Gallery is the realisation of the client’s long-term ambition to share his extensive private collection of more than 3,000 works of contemporary art with the public.

The gallery occupies a terrace of new-build and refurbished blocks that line Newport Street’s eastern side opposite the elevated railway arches in Vauxhall, south London.

The Design

The £25 million construction involved the conversion of three listed buildings, which had been purpose-built in 1913 to serve as scenery painting studios for the booming Victorian theatre industry in London's West End.

The three Victorian buildings are flanked by two new build structures, which have been constructed at either end, creating a gallery that spans the length of the street.

The gallery occupies 37,000 square feet and includes six exhibition spaces. There are three large galleries on each of the two floors stretching in a line from one end of the building to the other.

Both 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. The two gallery levels are connected by a set of three elliptical spiral staircases and a large lift.

One of the central galleries has a ceiling height of eleven metres split over two levels and the roof of the tallest building has been specifically designed to allow for the installation of large sculptures.

The original Victorian buildings are the central architectural inspiration for the composition. 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.

These are enlivened by a variety of subtle embellishments, including the distinctive sawtooth roof at the northern end that blends in perfectly with both heritage and local roofscapes.

The brickwork

The new semi-industrial facades are made with two distinct bespoke blends created by Northcot Brick to match the ‘common’ style brick of the listed buildings.

The majority is constructed in Newport Light (181,000 bricks), a hard pale red brick laid in a Flemish bond on a light lime mortar. The lower courses are constructed in Newport Dark (17,000 bricks) laid in a header bond at the front a stretcher bond to the side on a dark mortar.

Both blends were a variation on standard production with one blend requiring the removal of a specific colour and the other needing a crisper edge than its standard.   

Additionally, 6,000 bespoke handmade and standard machine made special shapes were created to match both blend types, some of which can be in the sawtooth detailing of the roof.

The five linked brick buildings, which are all different but obviously related, create a sheer and impressive street elevation with a profound sense of historical context.