National Portrait Gallery announces £35.5m facelift details

by Luke Cloherty | 25 Jan 2019

The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London has released details of its redevelopment plans, which entail a new entrance, new public galleries in the building’s East Wing and a new learning space.

Jamie Fobert Architects (JFA) have designed the plans with help from architectural conservation specialists Purcell.

Three windows in the current facade turned into doorways, taking pressure off the existing main entrance and allowing for disabled and non-disabled access through one entrance. The current main entrance will also be transformed, allowing for step-free access.

The East Wing, meanwhile, will be reopened to the public as the Weston Wing. It will be converted into a series of roof-lit galleries on the first floor, while a flexible gallery and social space will be installed on the ground floor.

The new learning centre will increase its learning space offering from one area to three. The rooms will replace and double the height of the gallery’s current kitchen, while a new adjacent outdoor space will also be created.

NPG director Nick Cullinan stated that the project will improve what can be "quite a fragmented experience" and "put the experience of visitors at the heart of everything we do".

The project will cost around £35.5m (US$46.3m, €40.7m), of which the gallery has raised £27.4m (US$35.7m, €31.4m) through funding from various sources, including the Heritage Lottery Fund.

"We are particularly happy to be able to reconsider the public area to the north of the gallery and transform it into a new public space for London," said JFA chief Jamie Fobert.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Smith, partner at Purcell, added: "The design was based on a thorough understanding of the gallery’s spatial order and its place in the city."

Construction is set to start in Q2/Q3 2020 and finish early in 2023.

National Portrait Gallery  London  Nick Cullinan  Jamie Fobert Architects  Purcell  Jamie Fobert  Elizabeth Smith 
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