Saatchi Gallery

Duke of York Square, London. 2008

  • Project Details
  • Completion: 2008
  • Clients: Saatchi Gallery

The Saatchi Gallery builds on the idea that the architectural language of galleries should be subservient to the art on display. The interior of the Grade II* listed Duke of York’s Headquarters is stripped back and reorganised to create an absolutely minimal set of white spaces. A new entrance sequence – focused on visual connectivity and understandable geometry – locates fifteen interconnected galleries over the three levels. Attached to the back of the original building is a new extension which was earlier planned as an office building by PDP/Cadogan. Its structure has been significantly redesigned to create double-height gallery spaces, but its exteriors remain as per the earlier scheme by the Landlord’s Architect. Internally, the detailing of both old and new has been carefully configured to ensure that the architecture recedes into the background.

The Duke of York HQ was originally built in 1801, by a pupil of Sir John Soane, as the Military Asylum for the Children of Soldiers of the Regular Army which housed 700 boys and 300 girls and was commonly called the Duke of York’s school.

The campus was arranged as dormitory accommodation contained in wings either side of a central school building containing large classroom spaces where 4 classes were taught at the same time. The building was used in this way until the Military Academy moved to Dover in 1905 and the building was handed over to the MoD and used by the Territorial Army. In 2002 it was decided to sell the land for sympathetic development and the Cadogan Estates acquired the estate in 1999.

AHMM were appointed in July 2005 by the Saatchi Gallery to work alongside David Rosen of Pilcher Hershman to find a new location for the art collection and gallery. In 2006 David Rosen suggested the Duke of York HQ building which was at that time planned as offices with an extension by Paul Davis and Partners.

The Saatchi Gallery leased the building for 25 years and began working with AHMM to redesign the interiors to suit a gallery rather than office use.

The Duke of York HQ in 1801 and 2008


CGIs by Smoothe

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