I am very proud to announce that Gallery on Leviseur has received an award form the Free State Institute of Architects.
The project brief called for major additions and alterations to an existing residential building in order to convert it into a small commercial art gallery, with a restaurant component as well as indoor and outdoor exhibition space. The site is located in what was previously a predominantly residential area, the character of which is rapidly changing to include small businesses and offices.
The triangular shaped site fronts onto two streets, and played a significant part in defining the unique shape of the main gallery space as well as the general layout of the building. The irregular shape, as well as the North/South elongation of the site (and consequently the building) posed challenges in terms of natural lighting and access.
In order to allow sufficient natural lighting (while maintaining as much wall space as possible) the roof of the entrance is raised to allow clerestory lighting into the space, and low-level windows have been inserted in order to allow light to reflect off the white floors. Increasing the verticality of the entrance space also created the opportunity for this volume to be visually expressive and visible from both streets straddling the site, making it easier for visitors to orientate themselves when approaching from any side.
The existing building had little architectural or structural significance, and was therefore only considered as supplemental area, and as a starting point to the new design. Exterior spaces were designed as "sculpture courtyards", and are all well connected to interior spaces. In response to concerns about noise and privacy from neighbours, the roof folds down to the ground at the North Eastern corner of the site, affording more privacy for the patio area. Intersections between various elements are expressively detailed. Standard steel sections were also used to create custom elements (most notably the “star columns” manufactured from flat bar).
The dynamic forms derived from the shape of the site were translated into the third dimension, making the main gallery space more engaging. The verticality of the soldier course brickwork and the flutes of the corrugated sheet cladding create interest when juxtaposed with the non-verticality of certain structural elements (columns and walls) of the building, all supporting the sense of dynamism the building is trying to convey.
Lightweight steel frame construction with corrugated sheet metal cladding was utilized for the dynamic forms of the building not only due to the poor soil conditions on the site, but also as this solution provided the simplest manner in which to construct these parts of the building.