The much-anticipated new Saatchi gallery opens in London’s Chelsea today, months behind schedule.
The gallery, at the Duke of York’s barracks off the King’s Road, SW3, was due to open in spring this year but has taken ‘slightly longer than expected’, according to a Saatchi spokeswoman.
The new gallery space is dramatically different from the former space in County Hall on the South Bank, which was considered by critics as unsuitable for contemporary art because of its small rooms and dark wood panelling.
The lead architect on the project, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, has created a design concept suppressing architectural and interior detailing in favour of an ‘absolutely’ minimal scheme to put the spotlight solely on Saatchi’s latest collections.
One of the key challenges of the project, according to the spokeswoman, has been to develop lighting as natural as possible, without impairing the windows of the Grade II-listed building.
This has been done by ‘lining’ the windows internally, while Barrisol lighting has been used throughout three of the lower floors.
The new gallery space features ‘large well-proportioned rooms and high ceilings’, and occupies 3135m2 of the 6500m2 building, with the rest of the space housing facilities including a bookshop, an educational area and a café/bar.
Architect Paul Davis & Partners has been responsible for the masterplan.
Saatchi’s first exhibition at the gallery – The Revolution Continues: New Chinese Art, which shows more than 100 pieces by 30 contemporary Chinese artists – opens to the public on Wednesday.
Design art auction house Phillips de Pury & Company is partnered with the gallery, allowing the public free access to exhibitions.