It seems that any renovation, whether a city or a shed, needs to confront the renovation dilemma. Should the plaque and tar simply be removed to reveal the truth of a beautiful (or flawed) origin? Or should the building be anaesthetised through radical surgery, erasing the unwieldy, the messy and the unnecessary to a prescribed future?
Our approach sits between these strategies, aiming for a collaboration and transformation to occur, to reveal the best of both hands and create an open future. The three existing buildings are reconceived as one, and replanned either side of a new central garden. A new entry, reception and gallery become the public face on the street, while the general offices face south over the river.
Absolute clarity in planning for the organisation allowed for an organic looseness in the building language. It also allowed for the unexpected participation of the parental structure to occasionally unsettle the mise en scène of the proposal.
Some of the guides in this project were to:
* have clarity at the big scale and complexity at the small scale
* make a large building disappear
* create a view where none existed
* make a forest sprout from a car park
* allow access for all to air and light
* poise work between nature and art
* make a vast gallery that is both submerged and present, alternately visible and invisible
* make interaction between people unexpected and serendipitous
* design a big building as if it were a small house
* make human happiness a business asset, and
* ignore the unified theory of the world.
An extraordinary client, who saw not just workaday offices, but a wider world, and a builder who looked inside our drawings and understood, made this project a pleasure to realise.