Shiny new floors!

7 04 2014

Shiny floors!

There is nothing nicer than a bright, shiny floor – this one was almost like looking at an empty swimming pool, and wanting to dive right in! The room is one of a suite of three spaces that will in future be dedicated to housing the majority of the Whitworth’s collections of fine art, textiles and wallpapers. All went reasonably well with laying the floor in the first room, and our storage suppliers started to install the storage equipment. Unfortunately, the next two rooms proved to be more tricky – the flooring is a liquid applied soft resin, and it has taken several attempts to get it exactly right – it looks like we are now finally closer to finishing work in this area, and we’ll soon be able to report on the completion of our marvellous new stores.

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This other beautiful floor is along the North Promenade, a future public space that will link the existing ground floor North Gallery with our new Landscape Gallery. The floor is Purbeck capstone, quarried in Dorset, and will complement the original external brick walls of the Gallery and new oak panelling that will line the north side of the corridor. Our architects, MUMA have precisely designed the layout of the flooring, and describe them as follows: ‘…there are 5 set widths of stone that we are using throughout, plus some bespoke widths to suit particular conditions. Lengths vary and are a factor of what size of slab comes out of the ground – they are cut to minimise wastage’. So not just beautiful, but designed with an eye to sustainable sourcing of materials.

Looking down the North Promenade, visitors will have a long view out to the park, while artworks will grace the inner wall – the first exhibition here will be photographs by Johnnie Shand Kydd (see the Gallery’s opening programme at: http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/whatson/exhibitions/shandkydd/).

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Big, Beautiful and Bright – comments from Whitworth staff

27 02 2014

Big, Beautiful and Bright - comments from Whitworth staff

After so much recent rain, it was lovely to be able to go on site this afternoon with a group of Whitworth staff and witness at first hand the late afternoon, winter sunshine streaming across the Art Garden and into the Promenade.

Views of the park were high on the list of staff comments, with a real pleasure expressed by the intimacy between views out to the Art Garden and into the Collections Access Area and Study Centre – ‘we can’t wait to see it when all the windows are revealed’ and the glazing protection taken down. Members of the Learning team were excited too by the connections between the inside and external spaces – the Bi-fold doors that have just been installed in the Learning studio will come into their own as families drop in for the exciting programme of activities in store.

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The Cafe remains a firm favourite – so lovely to imagine sitting within the canopy of the trees sipping coffee – and don’t forget too the Cafe Terrace, which will surely become a great place for lunch on a summer’s day.

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Staff were bowled over by the spaces, expressing surprise over the sheer scale of the Landscape Gallery (reminiscent to one of White Cube at Mason’s Yard, London), and generally how so much of the new build felt bigger than when just seen on the plans.

Some staff are currently ensconced in rather old and dingy temporary office accommodation, and so the visit was a good reminder of what we are all working towards, seeing ‘our new, amazing Gallery makes you realise it will be worth it in the end’ – the word ‘Magnificent’ summed it all up!





Just some great images!

3 02 2014

Just some great photos!

Not much for me to report right now – progress continues on site, but its been quite difficult to get around, not just because of the rain, but as so many areas are currently having floor screeds or stone paving laid, so access routes are restricted.

So instead I’m going to show a few images that are ‘during’ shots – phases of the building work that once completed will never look like this again, or may never even be visible to anyone:

First up (above), perfect circles cut into the brickwork and precisely aligned between the arches of the Lower Promenade, that will become part of the ventilation system. Secondly (below), the steel structure, seen from the inside, that forms the huge high level window from the Landscape Gallery looking out over Denmark Road.

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And finally, a view of the South Promenade wall – the wall that used to be the exterior of the Gallery, but is now internal – with work ongoing to remove poor and damaged bricks ready for replacement with reclaimed bricks, and finally cleaning and repointing. The area of white wall at the far end used to be within a small outbuilding, demolished at the start of the project – this is where a new door will be opened up between the Promenade and the existing South Gallery.

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Documenting our construction project

3 10 2013

Documenting our construction project

For the majority of the construction project we have had a series of photographs taken for documentary purposes by professional photographer, Alan Seabright. Alan has been given good access to the site by our contractors ISG and taken some great shots of work in progress. Here is his view of the process:

“My fist site visit back in May was, to an untrained eye, a construction site of noise, stockpiled building material, concrete mixers, builders in hard hats scurrying about, and a never ending supply of mud and sludge! Move on five months and how things have changed. The structures are taking the recognisable shape of buildings with purpose and design, and with the height of some of the outer walls you get a sense of the size and depth of the project as it starts to ‘flesh out’ the outer skin of the structures. I will be back on site again in the first week of each month and expect ever more dramatic changes to have been made”.

I’ve chosen a couple of Alan’s recent photographs that show the stunning new promenades – the Lower Promenade (above) that wraps around the building at park level and which will become a significant route to our new facilities and with views into the Collections Access Area through its lovely arches; and two photos showing the junction of the wide upper Promenade, at the west end of the new exhibition galleries, where it meets the cafe.

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