rafael viñoly architects: firstsite contemporary art
rafael viñoly architects: firstsite contemporary art rafael viñoly architects: firstsite contemporary art
sep 27, 2011

rafael viñoly architects: firstsite contemporary art

‘firstsite contemporary art’ by rafael viñoly architects, colchester, england image © richard bryant / arcaidimages.com

the recently completed contemporary visual arts center ‘firstsite‘ by new york-based rafael viñoly architects has officially opened its doors to the public in colchester, england. positioned amidst one of the first ancient roman settlements in britain, galleries are arranged in a crescent configuration to wrap and encompass an 18th century garden. due to the building’s close proximity to scattered archeology sites, the structure was constructed above a concrete raft foundation to avoid crossing an established datum intended to protect the integrity of unexcavated historical artifacts. regularly rotated exhibits present the work of contemporary artists in juxtaposition to the nearby remnants of an original roman wall. one relic, the ‘berryfield mosaic’ is set within the floor under protective glass comprising the only permanent display within the museum.

entrance to museum image © richard bryant / arcaidimages.com

the facade is composed of an external steel framework enclosed with a copper-aluminum alloy cladding which extends to frame an entrance portico. the conceptual design intention to invert a white cube manifests with diffused light filtering unobstructed through internal corridors and outwards to the landscape. visitors are received within interior promenade leading towards a wood veneered auditorium, learning areas, exhibits and finally the cafe which is naturally illuminated with clerestory windows. guests may access an outdoor terrace with views of the garden and interchangeable installations of sculptures. galleries and administrative spaces bound the inside face of the arc-shaped plan layout.

(left) building and pathway wraps 18th century garden adjacent to museum (right) auditorium images © richard bryant / arcaidimages.com

corridor image © richard bryant / arcaidimages.com

gallery space image © richard bryant / arcaidimages.com

exhibition image © richard bryant / arcaidimages.com

entry plaza image © rafael viñoly architects

aerial view image © rafael viñoly architects

aerial view of entrance at night image © rafael viñoly architects

perspective floor plan image © rafael viñoly architects

project info:

name of building: firstsite location: colchester, england schedule: competition 2003 construction 2006-2011 opening 25 september, 2011 project cost: 28.2 million GPD client: colchester borough council, colchester, essex

building details: floor area: 40,900 gsf number of floors: 1 main programmes: galleries, education and seminar rooms, resource centre, auditorium, lobby, retail, restaurant, kitchen, administrative offices, meeting rooms

project leadership: capital partners: arts council england essex county council colchester borough council east of england development agency firstsite project director: jackson coles construction and cost management: mace, london architect: rafael viñoly, principal and lead designer rafael viñoly architects pc, london

roofing, cladding and windows: richardson roofing glazed wall: firman floors and specialist joinery: ruddy mechanical & electrical: mitie drywall: fireclad painting & decorating: lucas architectural ironmongery: glazzard external works: pj carey landscaping: kinnear landscape architects

structural engineer: adams kara taylor, london mechanical / hvac engineer: arup, london electrical engineer: arup, london

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