New Sainsbury Wing designs

New Sainsbury Wing designs June 23 2022 Picture: Selldorf Architects I'm prompted by this piece on Charles Saumarez Smith's blog about the architect of the National Gallery's Sainsbury Wing, Bob Venturi, to seek out images of the proposed redesign of the Wing, above. The project has been given to the New York based architect Annabelle Selldorf, and I'm relieved to see that the ground floor at least is not too different. Part of the ceiling of the entrance hall is to be removed, to let more light in from the stairwell, which looks nice. Although it makes me appreciate again how impressive the current design is (below). It also looks from the photos as if the intention is to leave the entrance space as just, well, space, with no shop or cloakroom. But then I daresay Bob Venturi's original Sainsbury Wing looked clear and spacious on paper  too. It's when the architects handover to museum management that the clutter, desks, shops, bad lighting and signage starts to come in. And before long, the museum says, we need to get an architect in to fix this. The key thing, as Charles points in this quote from Bob Venturi, is not to inflict sensory overload on the visitor before they get to the art: When you enter the museum you might wonder, are you in a museum or an airport? And by the time you reach the art, you are either worn down by the banality of the maze you have traversed, or jaded by the drama of the spatial, symbolic or chromatic fantasies the architect has ejaculated you through.  The art, when you reach it, has become a kind of anti-climax — in fact, dull as you perceive it with your, by then, constricted pupils, jaded sensibilities, and loss of orientation. Whether leaving the visitor de-sensitized on entry is possible in these days of gift shops and constant marketing, I'm not sure. Perhaps Annabelle Selldorf can insist on some sort of covenant, that the space must stay as she designs it. Update - In an interesting article in The Guardian, Rowan Moore has a more representative photograph of the proposed entrance space. Is it a bit... shopping mall?

New Sainsbury Wing designs

New Sainsbury Wing designs

June 23 2022

Image of New Sainsbury Wing designs

Picture: Selldorf Architects

I'm prompted by this piece on Charles Saumarez Smith's blog about the architect of the National Gallery's Sainsbury Wing, Bob Venturi, to seek out images of the proposed redesign of the Wing, above. The project has been given to the New York based architect Annabelle Selldorf, and I'm relieved to see that the ground floor at least is not too different. Part of the ceiling of the entrance hall is to be removed, to let more light in from the stairwell, which looks nice. Although it makes me appreciate again how impressive the current design is (below).

It also looks from the photos as if the intention is to leave the entrance space as just, well, space, with no shop or cloakroom. But then I daresay Bob Venturi's original Sainsbury Wing looked clear and spacious on paper  too. It's when the architects handover to museum management that the clutter, desks, shops, bad lighting and signage starts to come in. And before long, the museum says, we need to get an architect in to fix this.

The key thing, as Charles points in this quote from Bob Venturi, is not to inflict sensory overload on the visitor before they get to the art:

When you enter the museum you might wonder, are you in a museum or an airport? And by the time you reach the art, you are either worn down by the banality of the maze you have traversed, or jaded by the drama of the spatial, symbolic or chromatic fantasies the architect has ejaculated you through.  The art, when you reach it, has become a kind of anti-climax — in fact, dull as you perceive it with your, by then, constricted pupils, jaded sensibilities, and loss of orientation.

Whether leaving the visitor de-sensitized on entry is possible in these days of gift shops and constant marketing, I'm not sure. Perhaps Annabelle Selldorf can insist on some sort of covenant, that the space must stay as she designs it.

Update - In an interesting article in The Guardian, Rowan Moore has a more representative photograph of the proposed entrance space. Is it a bit... shopping mall?