The Courtauld Institute of Art and Witherford Watson Mann have unveiled an ambitious set of architectural proposals set to revitalise the Institute’s historical Somerset House premises in central London.
In the proposed plans, the Stirling Prize-winning practice has responded to The Courtauld’s ‘Courtauld Connects’ initiative – a bold long-term project which aims to connect the Institute with broader audiences, and to further integrate its diverse academic and public programmes. As such, Witherford Watson Mann’s approach is neither modernising refurbishment nor scholarly reconstruction, but rather a series of small but highly strategic interventions which collectively transform the institution. By working with the ‘deep structure’ of the building, the practice proposes a coherent strategy to enhance access and circulation.
Over the past 25 years, ever-increasing numbers of students and visitors have put significant strain on The Courtauld’s current operations. Visitors’ experience of the building is still restricted by many of the original subdivisions, with the gallery circuit terminating in a dead end, and with 42 different levels spread across seven floors.
The ambitious new plans seek to open up The Courtauld to the public like never before. By developing new routes and connecting previously unused spaces, the Institute will become more accessible to the public, all the while allowing for additional space for galleries, public programmes and research.
Four of the original large rooms, subsequently subdivided or altered, will be reinstated to their original scale. In the Great Room – the oldest surviving space for public exhibitions in London – the practice plans to clear the current subdivisions to provide a space for exceptional works. The visitor circuit will take in the newly revealed symmetry of Chambers’ grand semi-circular stairs and will embrace the Piranesian grandeur of the extensive below ground vaults, where the new interventions will form an enlarged café and a new informal working space for staff and students. The
Courtauld’s teaching spaces will receive a thorough upgrade, with more seminar rooms, and more space for the conservation studios and the library.
For further information please email Gloria Roberts at Caro Communications.