Aberdeen Art Gallery
Civic Trust Awards
Level of Award
Local Authority Area
Information about this scheme
Aberdeen Art Gallery is home to one of the finest collections in the UK, and in 2009 Aberdeen City Council set out to create a world class visitor attraction that would serve generations of residents and attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
The completion of the project in 2019 was the culmination of a decade of intensive, creative and collaborative work. The redevelopment sees the number of galleries increasing from 11 to 19, a re-imagined Remembrance Hall, refurbished Cowdray Hall, and an enhanced activity programme. In addition, there are new education spaces; greatly improved visitor facilities, wayfinding, accessibility and circulation; the complete renewal of servicing and environmental control systems; and greatly improved back of house facilities. A programme of repair focused on making-good defective fabric and systems, and on addressing the damage done over time.
A clear sequence of connections between galleries, and hierarchy between picture galleries and Sculpture Court, was carefully restored and emphasized. Selective demolition allowed for
construction of a new ‘backpack’ to house improved staff, art handling, study and education facilities in effective, well connected, but deliberately low-key ancillary spaces located off the principal gallery circuit. More dramatically, the entire roof, in need of complete renewal, was removed, and a striking new copper- clad element built on top of existing granite walls. Housing a further three new galleries, this new sculptural rooftop extension is a symbol for the Art Gallery’s rejuvenation and facilitates a programme of regularly changing special exhibitions.
Every potential alteration has come under the scrutiny of the heritage experts. There has clearly been a deep felt understanding of the building’s merits and, where change has been essential, the solutions have been entirely in keeping with the qualities of the original building.
The level of workmanship is high. Interruptions to the original fabric have been handled sensitively and the effect is seamless and of high quality throughout. Universal design has clearly been implicit to the design brief and all visitors can now share and enjoy what the new gallery now offers.
Aberdeen City Council
McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd
Buro Happold Ltd
Historic Buildings Consultant
Andrew PK Wright
Primary Use Class
Class D1e - Museums