biophilia and immersive artifice to visualise a new type of environment
Studio Jenny Jones _Frank Cohen_Nicolai Frahm _Paul Raeside_Yoshitomo Nara
The Dairy Art Centre
How to repurpose an industrial building into an International Art Venue | Film by Andrew Telling
Founders | Frank Cohen & Nicolai Frahm
Program | 1885m2 Temporary Arts Centre | refurbishment of disused 1960's Dairy Depot
Location | London Central
The not-for-profit initiative, founded by the art collectors Frank Cohen and Nicolai Frahm, took over the former Express Dairies Depot, Bloomsbury, London in 2012 and after a year of planning and adaptation, opened as the Dairy Art Centre in April 2013 with the inaugural solo show by Jon Armleder “Quicksand”.
The Founders envisaged an environment that would respect both the aesthetic of the industrial qualities of the disused depot and allow international-standard exhibitions to be enjoyed in a non-institutional and non-commercial environment.
The site sits in a triangular pocket formed between the city grid and St George’s Gardens; a cultural poche. By nature of it’s attitude and positioning, it was likened to Saatchi’s exhibition space on Boundary Road.
Since the collection of existing buildings and yards already promised a curatorial sequence of differentiated spaces for exhibitions and events, we developed a language for its appropriation that created new interventions only where there was a need, and then through a filter of distillation and realignment we removed and re-used elements of the existing to create a choreographed yet flexible sequence of display “niches” and rooms. There was an efficiency in this, appropriate as a sensitivity to the site’s qualities but also to a budget that was geared to the potential “meanwhileness” of the use of the site; on one hand the adaptation should express temporary, at the same time as creating a background appropriate to the standard of work that would be shown. The result is consciously passive; the “art” is the focus, with the exception of the entrance which worked hard to facilitate the functional requirements of art loading / event flow / gallery window / security / fire exit and…entrance. This was achieved through a choreography of visible doors, sliding windows, pocket walls with invisible doors and the old existing black sliding shutter as the final layer.
The material palette was deliberate: colourless, white, mirror stainless steel, glass and translucent multiwall polycarbonate. This assembly of clear, solid, reflective and translucent surfaces reveal partial views whilst reflected views are flattened within the material surface. The display walls finished sharply and struck a clear datum; display below / old depot above. The horizontal expression of this datum was further implied with a family of fluorescent lighting details developed to camouflage into the ceiling architecture. The exception being the entrance which was illuminated by a seamless back-lit fabric ceiling panel that spanned from the lobby to Room A, guiding the visitor to the first junction and acting as a liminal curating device between exterior and interior.
The industrial sheds were by their nature porous to external conditions. We challenged the level of thermal performance / relative humidity to a standard appropriate for the storage of art which resulted in a low energy installation and operation. The quality of air that one sensed felt authentic to the experience of viewing art in an appropriated industrial space.
The Dairy was voted one of fifteen of the “World's Best New Galleries and Museums “ by Blouin Artinfo and awarded the Architizer A+ Awards special mention in 2014.
Design Team | Jenny Jones, Micheal Boylan, Sacha Leong, Vitarat Pariyawatakul
Structural Engineers | Holt & Wotton
Conservation Engineer | Hayes & Adcock
Lighting Design | DPA
Main Contractor | Maven Interiors
Project Management | WPG
Client PM | Sarah Aspin
Planning Supervisor | Jim Slater
Branding | North
John Armleder Quicksand
Julian Schnabel Every Angel has a Dark Side
Adriana Lara Smoking Kills
Yoshitomo Nara Greetings from a Place in My Heart