Contemporary art gallery by Mitchell Stout Architects contrasts Lopdell House heritage building

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Designed as a composition of forms, Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery in Titirangi, Auckland addresses the need to provide natural light while protecting artworks. Architect Julian Mitchell discusses the project.

Planning an extension to a landmark heritage building in the 21st century is all about respect, not replication. But the design of the new contemporary art gallery to be built alongside historic Lopdell House in Titirangi, Auckland also presented other challenges, says architect Julian Mitchell of Mitchell & Stout Architects. “Clearly, the modern building needed to sit comfortably beside the heritage structure, while presenting a new architectural expression,” Mitchell says. “But we also had to work with a very steep site that has a three-storey drop-off from front to back, and a relatively tight footprint. “There was also the challenge of the light. Modern architecture is all about the way a space responds to natural light – as architects we are always looking for ways to open up an interior to the light. Art curators, however, request closed-box gallery spaces that they can light artificially. This was one of the key reasons that Lopdell House, with its abundant large windows, was unsuited to provide the required gallery spaces.” All these factors helped to determine the design solution. This was aided by the architects’ earlier involvement with the restoration and earthquake strengthening of Lopdell House, which is owned by Auckland Council and administered by the Lopdell House Development Trust.

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