Cheltenham Art Space
Cheltenham, UK

Design team: Dr Cristian Suau, Hannes Gutberlet, Mhairi McVicar & Kevin Hong
Client: Cheltenham Art Gallery
Publication: RIBA online
Type: retrofitting, renovation, art space
Year: 2007
Budget: confidential
Building system: reinforced slab concrete, metal frame, U-glass and louvres as cladding, roof timber decking, sun-spaces
Landscape: green roof, granite pavement

The development of the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum begins by inhabiting a void within the existing urban fabric with a Hall for the Arts. This generous, multi-functional exhibition and gathering space provides a clear, visible and centralised internal connection between existing and new galleries and a new Arts Store. The Hall for the Arts, as a key link between Clarence Street and Chester Walk, also initiates a regeneration strategy which includes a formal entry area on Clarence Street, and improvements along Chester Walk with an arts garden and cafe seating area which extends and connects the landscaped gardens of St Mary's Church grounds with the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, the Music and Children's Library, and nearby restaurants on Chester Walk and Well Walk .

1. Gallery
A clear distinction is made between the intimate scale and circuitous layout of the nineteenth century
galleries, and the expansiveness and flexibility of the twentieth and twenty-first century galleries. The
new second floor gallery, a two-storey volume accessed and viewed from the Hall for the Arts,
connects directly to the existing retained galleries, and links to a rooftop arts terrace and green roof
2. Hall for the Arts
It responds to the continuously changing and varied needs of a contemporary gallery and public gathering space, providing the potential for exhibitions, performances, film projections, dining, arts education workshops, and celebratory events; ground floor exhibition and events space. The Hall for the Arts creates a prominent two-storey exhibition and event space on the ground floor link between Clarence Street and Chester Walk, providing variations for temporary exhibitions, large scale or site-specific artworks, 'spill out' space for the cafeteria, shop, and workshops, and public events and celebrations; artistic education, outreach and celebration.
3. Art Store
Greater public awareness, visibility and access to the stored collections is highlighted with the four-storey storage facade of the Cheltenham Arts Store, containing storage areas, workshops and visible archives which are accessed and viewed from the Hall for the Arts.
4. The Arts Arcade
On the ground floor, i renovates the ground floor of the existing 1980's entry as a clear, expanded and flexible Arcade containing a café, shop display area, and entry lobby, opening directly into the Hall for the Arts, and offering the potential of future links with the adjacent library.
- Entry
The existing entry arch and artwork to the 1980's gallery is highlighted as the primary entry and opens into a reconfigured Arcade containing the shop and cafe;
- Shop
The shop consists of moveable display walls which can pack tightly into small display stands, securely close off
the Hall for The Arts for separate events, or spill into the Hall of the Arts for increased display space;
- Café
The café links internally into the Hall for the Arts and externally into a new arts plaza which connects the Art Gallery and Museum with the existing Music and Children's Library, St Mary's Church, and nearby restaurants on Chester Walk and Well Walk. Moveable café seating into the Hall and plaza provides visibility from Clarence Street and regenerates activity along Chester Walk.

The Hall for the Arts organises a simplified, visible and centralised circulation core between the existing Galleries and the new Cheltenham Arts Store. This generous and clear circulation core serves all existing and new galleries, and research, storage and staff areas from one entry point, whilst allowing all existing stairs and lifts to remain as secondary internal circulation.

The external glass skin of the Hall for the Arts provides a microclimate which protects interior galleries, arts stores, and education, meeting and staff areas from direct heat, sunlight, wind, light and noise. As an internal ‘street’, the Hall for the Arts provides indirect lighting and tempered ventilation to all new and redeveloped interior spaces through combined environmental strategies:
1. U-glass skin
Pilkington Profilit linear ‘U’ channel glass provides the glass skin for the micro-climate. Consisting of structural self-supporting dual glazed vertical glass channels with an extruded metal frame, the glass is available in varying levels of translucency with optional Nanogel insulation, providing an extremely energy-efficient and economical skin.
2. Ground source heat pumps
Vertical loop ground source heat pumps, installed concurrently with foundation pilings, exchange energy captured from constant ground temperatures through a heat pump compressor to provide heating or cooling.
3. Cross ventilation
Fresh air is drawn from underground ducting at low level into the Hall for the Arts, and ventilated at roof level. All internal spaces have individual ventilation controls opening directly into the Hall for the Arts.
4. Green Roof
The roof is proposed as an intensive sedum roof, using recycled aggregates from on site demolition as a growing medium, reducing water run-off and increasing roof insulation values.

1. Environmental U-glass skin
A varied translucent and transparent U- glass skin is proposed as an environmental strategy for an internal microclimate; the Pilkington Profilit glass skin spans between the nineteenth century facades of the Knight and Chatters library and the grade II listed No. 51 Clarence Street, whilst retaining the visibility of the 1980’s addition behind a transparent section of U-glass. The entry arch and Alan Evans iron artwork remain visible as the primary entry, whilst the Chinks Grylis stained glass window is retained as a visible feature within the second floor gallery.
2. Flooring
Reinforced concrete flooring with embedded radiant heating and a sandstone floor finish is proposed at the ground floor. Upper level galleries and stores are proposed as a dark waxed concrete finish.
3. Internal facades
The Arts Store façade is proposed as floor to floor vertical louvered timber screens, which are adjustable to allow flexibility for display, visibility, indirect light and tempered ventilation. The new second floor Gallery is proposed as U-glass screening allowing the option of controlled and indirect natural internal lighting, with additional sliding internal opaque screen walls for optional hanging and black-out exhibitions.

Download PDF Design Project


urban strategy  

climatic strategy low-passive energy scheme

programmatic axo  

spatial games: 6 key spaces

street level  

first level  

second level  

third level  

upper level  

section AA - section BB  


street view  

view from the inner park