Monthly Archives: January 2012


JT Bachman – The Royal Armouries

This gallery contains 13 photos.

British Library Final

by Erik Herrmann


British Library Final

Stephen Gage

This project proposes a new prototype for the British Library that combines storage for a particular collection with public access and state of the art viewing facilities.  Located in Swindon, the Sound & Media Archive provides storage for the British Library’s collection of over 4 million audio, video, and printed music media, ranging from popular and classical music to wildlife sounds and rare performance recordings.  This facility acts as a potential prototype for a series of regional outposts of the British Library that would specialize in oft-neglected subsets of its vast collection.

The Sound & Media Archive includes performance spaces of all scales, from individual listening booths and practice rooms to a fully equipped theatre, dance club, and informal performance hall that double as community assets in addition to facilitating unprecedented public access to this diverse collection.  Formally, the project is expressed as a big box shed of dense storage which is carved away by individualized performance voids.  Each void possesses its own unique character, allowing for a range of listening/viewing experiences.  A central aisle binds the interior together, creating a processional route weaving through the storage stacks, organized by media type.  Multiple entrances along an exterior public promenade create a vibrant public space that accentuates existing pedestrian routes across the site, connecting downtown Swindon and the train station with the Gorse Hill commercial district.

Materially, the standardized metal aesthetic of the warehouse is contrasted by a rich textural brick that defines the façade and void spaces.  On the outside, the brick forms a lettered screen derived from the existing British Library gate in London.  This screen creates a recognizable identity from afar while modulating light at views at the pedestrian scale.  In the interplay between repetitive storage and highly specific viewing spaces, between clip-on “IKEA” shed and warm human-scaled brick, the project explores the oscillation between the generic and the specific, the intimate and the monumental, oppositions inherent to the uniquely contemporary intersection of large-scale storage with the preservation of cultural heritage.

Tate Swindon Final

Christos C. Bolos

This project approaches the idea of a publicly-accessible repository by hybridizing the big-box storage warehouse with the British country house typology. First, this branch of the Tate uses Swindon’s advantageous location, centrally located between the four existing Tate galleries. The Tate Swindon would absorb the entirety of the existing Tate Store’s contents and provide ample room for an ever-expanding collection, becoming the central distribution center for the Tate. Second, in re-instituting the “dining room” as the center of social life and the primary venue for viewing art, the Tate Swindon democratizes the country house by allowing individuals and groups to hold events in the new facility with the ability to curate the art which surrounds them while they dine.

To further make the Tate Swindon an integral part of the Tate’s operations, a cue was taken from the Tate Store’s current function of serving as a staging venue for new acquisitions to the Collection or for upcoming exhibits. Currently, a mock-gallery must be constructed and subsequently torn down every three months to “test” the various artworks under museum conditions. The Tate Swindon improves on this model, making it more accurate and experientially rich, by directly reconstructing various rooms from the existing four Tates, providing an array of backdrops upon which the Collection can be rehearsed. Although these rooms are infused with new programs such as overnight rooms and study areas for scholars, they are exact replicas of their original counterparts, thereby allowing staff to test artworks against the conditions of any Tate prior to transporting a piece.

These rooms are arranged in a manner both emblematic of traditional country house planning and respectful of their newly-infused programmatic functions. The country house portion of the scheme is oriented toward the currently-picturesque, and in the future possibly suburban, southern side of the site, while the storage shed fronts the A419 highway to facilitate the distribution operations of the facility. The two parts, country house and warehouse, then come together to provide users access to the vast storage space from the more intimate gallery areas. This provides increased public access to the often-unseen extents of the Tate Collection, allowing users to sift through painting storage racks and gain a unique experience which contrasts the domestic and curated with the industrial and impromptu.