The Shirley Sherwood GalleryEdit profile
Introduction: The Shirley Sherwood Gallery is a new art gallery in Kew Gardens, London. This is the first gallery in the world dedicated to the display of botanical art, and it enables the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew), to make some of its many beautiful, important and rare works accessible to the visiting public for the first time. Client's brief: The brief was to design an art gallery dedicated to exhibiting works of botanical art from the extensive collection owned by RBG Kew, and donations from the private collection of Dr Shirley Sherwood. Many of these works are light sensitive and require a climate-controlled environment; Walters and Cohen's design provides exactly these conditions in an elegant building that also complements its surroundings in the wider context of a World Heritage Site and offers a welcoming, flexible space with views of Kew Gardens. Another requirement called for the new gallery to be physically linked to the existing Grade 2 listed Marianne North Gallery. This link provides additional gallery space and disabled access between both buildings. The two galleries create an art hub at Kew and enhance visitors’ experience of this beautiful part of the Gardens. The site: The new building is carefully located between two TROBI trees (Tree Register of the British Isles) in a Grade 1 listed landscape. The new gallery has minimal impact on the landscape and respects the architecture of the adjacent Marianne North Gallery. Inclusive, accessible design: Every effort has been made by RBG Kew to ensure that the environment in the new gallery precinct is safe, convenient and enjoyable for people to use, regardless of disability, age or gender. As well as being a physically accessible building, the ethos of the project embodies inclusion by making the collections of Dr Sherwood and of RBG Kew publicly available 363 days of the year. A central part of our brief for the new gallery was to provide level access to both the new building and the Marianne North Gallery, allowing all visitors the same experience of the gallery buildings. The main entrance to the new Gallery of Botanical Art is via a ramp and steps from the west. Level access is provided from the service yard into the link gallery for events and changing exhibitions. A platform lift links the new building and the Marianne North Gallery. The decision to provide a lift instead of a long ramp was made in consultation with the local authority and RBG Kew's Access groups. Once the restoration of the Marianne North Gallery is complete in 2010, there will be an additional disabled access/exit at the rear of the Marianne North Gallery. This will allow visitors direct access into the building for evening events, and will provide an additional exit so that visitors who require level access can choose to go out the way they came in or exit onto the new Temperate House path. Path surfaces outside the new gallery have been replaced to ensure ease of access into the new gallery and to create a pleasant walkway to the building. The internal circulation routes are wide and generous, allowing people in wheelchairs to view the art in safety and comfort. The reception desk is fitted with a hearing induction loop, and signage has been designed to be clearly legible by partially sighted people. Benches are provided in the main circulation area and in the main gallery space so that people can sit down. Benches on the external terrace will be provided when the terrace is used for an event or as part of an exhibition. The carefully controlled climate and light levels ensure a comfortable, stable environment for staff and visitors. Sustainable design: The design is innovative and energy efficient. Internal space has been maximised and the 'box within a box’ provides visitors with views across the surrounding Gardens, whilst maintaining a controlled internal environment (50 lux and 55% relative humidity) to protect the light-sensitive artworks. The design has several sustainable features: The building has a triple skin façade with deployable blinds and controlled ventilation to trap heat in winter while controlling and dispersing solar gains in summer. Displacement ventilation provides stable conditions for the art while allowing the air supply temperature to be 4 - 6?C higher, thus increasing the use of 'free' cooling by outdoor air. Heating and chilled water generation is achieved through a reversible ground source heat pump, which uses a deep borehole to add and extract energy from the ground. This achieves a reduction in CO2 of 15%. The artificial lighting system incorporates dimming technology to optimise light levels to all gallery zones and compensate for daylight. Solid elements of the façade comfortably exceed the thermal performance requirements of the Building Regulations to minimise heat flows. Method of construction: The central gallery was constructed on site, with an in situ concrete slab underneath a raised metal floor. The frame comprises prefabricated slender steel columns, beams and bracing. The side galleries and the link to the Marianne North Gallery were constructed as above, while external walls are supported with blockwork tied to the columns. The steel frame and triple skin façade were designed and installed by Tuchschmid of Switzerland. Summary of timetable: Contract awarded August 2004; started on site September 2006; completed February 2008. Programme and budget constraints: The project was completed on time and within the constraints of a limited budget.