Firstsite to pick team for £16.5m Colchester venue

The Essex-based arts complex Firstsite is putting together a team of designers to undertake a raft of projects, as it prepares to move into a £16.5m venue designed by New York architect Rafael Viñoly.

Firstsite is poised to appoint a landscape and lighting design consultancy to work up concepts to ensure that the site scheme ‘gels’ together, says a spokesman for Firstsite.

The venue, located in Colchester, will include an auditorium and restaurant, and will provide up to ten times more gallery floor space than its current home.

An exhibition designer may be appointed and Firstsite has also not ruled out the possibility of commissioning designers to create bespoke items, such as furniture, to install throughout the space, says the spokesman. The complex is due to open next year.

Graphic designer Marcia Mihotich has been appointed following a two-stage pitch to redesign the organisation’s existing brand identity, which was last updated by Silk Pearce. The intention is to move the identity away from its minimal look to create more of a ‘meaty’ image, but this will not include a name change, says the spokesman.

Mihotich will also be tasked with redesigning the Firstsite website. Aukett Brockliss Guy has been appointed to create a cohesive wayfinding and signage system to steer visitors across the new site.

Final planning approval to construct the Viñoly building was granted last month by The Department for Communities and Local Government.

The development is being funded by a partnership between the Arts Council, East of England Development Agency, Essex County Council and Colchester Borough Council.

Since 1993, Firstsite has been located at its current base, an 18th-century townhouse in Colchester, called The Minories. Its collection includes art by Anthony Gormley, Bridget Riley and Louise Bourgeois. It also exhibits the University of Essex collection of Latin American art.

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