New Art Gallery and Public Square
The New Walsall Art Gallery is the home for the Garman Ryan collection donated to the town by Kathleen Garman. The 4900 square-metre building also provides world class galleries for an ambitious temporary exhibition programme of contemporary art, extensive education facilities, conference rooms, restaurant and a shop.
The accommodation is provided within a terracotta clad tower to give the building a prominence appropriate to its importance as a major public building in the town. The tower form of the art gallery allows for a series of connected floors, where different parts of the programme can be accommodated separately, allowing the height, structure, lighting and services to be tailored in each kind of space.
The relatively small size and particular character of each floor enables a close and orientating connection to the surrounding urban landscape. All the spaces of the building are side-lit with openings of different sizes and scales. The small windows in the Garman Ryan suite lend these galleries a domestic scale tailored to the nature of the works in the collection, while the exhibition galleries have more flexible clerestory lighting. A variety of stairs and lifts allow fluid and relaxed movement through the building.
The architects worked in collaboration with the artist Richard Wentworth on the design of the new public square adjacent to the gallery at the centre of Walsall. This new place is loosely defined by a collection of buildings and infrastructures, all having their own scales and character.