SIRS Architects converts London brewery into gallery for Gilbert & George

Exterior of the Gilbert & George Centre by SIRS Architects

London studio SIRS Architects has converted a 19th-century brewery into a public gallery for artist duo Gilbert & George in London.

Located on a narrow street in Spitalfields, the Gilbert & George Centre is designed to pay homage to the area’s architectural heritage while celebrating the work of artists Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore, who collaborated with SIRS Architects on the project.

Gate to the Gilbert & George Centre
The Gilbert & George Centre was designed by SIRS Architects

“Our objective was to invigorate the area’s historic fabric, paying homage to both Gilbert & George’s pioneering spirit and profound reverence for London’s rich and diverse architectural heritage,” studio co-founder Manuel Irsara told Dezeen.

“The belief that underpins the art of Gilbert & George is ‘Art for All’, and the Gilbert & George Centre is an extension of this ethos.”

Gilbert & George outside the Gilbert & George Centre in London by SIRS Architects
It is located in east London

Developed from a neglected former brewery built in the early 19th century, the gallery comprises three exhibition spaces of differing sizes arranged across three uniquely designed levels.

Two new volumes are made partially from reclaimed bricks. On one facade, the studio arranged darker bricks in a diamond-shaped pattern that is intended to resemble the letters XOXO.

Entrance area to the Gilbert & George Centre
The arts centre was designed for artist duo Gilbert & George

“The brickwork pattern on the facade features XOXO as a tribute to Gilbert & George’s iconic salutation ‘love, always and all ways’,” said Irsara.

A green iron gate designed by Gilbert & George invites visitors into a cobbled courtyard. A film room has been added to one side of the courtyard, where a video introducing visitors to the artwork is shown.

Photo of the brick buildings in London renovated by SIRS Architects
It is housed in an old brewery

“The traditionally crafted wrought iron gate is discretely divided into two leaves and has been painted with a hue known as ‘invisible green’,” said Irsara.

Extending from the courtyard is a reception and library area designed to reflect the artist duo’s nearby Georgian home and studio on Fournier Street.

Enclosed by timber-panelled walls, the reception features handcrafted furniture and cast-iron elements along with many of the building’s original features, which were preserved throughout the gallery to nod to its industrial past.

“By combining historic, restored and contemporary elements, the project honours the building’s industrial past with a new lease of life and aligns with the artists’ vision of art and architecture,” said Irsara.

Art gallery interior
There are series of unique gallery spaces

A ground-floor exhibition room is located next to the reception, with additional gallery spaces and a meeting room located on the other levels, including a basement that has been added to the original building.

The galleries are dimly lit by a bespoke lighting system that is designed specifically for the duo’s larger artworks but can be adapted to suit different exhibitions in the future.

Photo of a gallery space
A bespoke lighting system has been created for the galleries

“The cutting edge lighting system was tailor-made for Gilbert & George’s large scale pictures, but can equally be reconfigured, giving the artists flexibility to create everchanging exhibitions in different lighting atmospheres,” said the studio.

Based in London and Vienna, SIRS Architects was founded in 2010 by Irsara and Sebastian Soukup.

Interior image of a gallery space by SIRS Architects
Original details have been retained

The gallery will open to the public on 1 April with its inaugural exhibition entitled The Paradisical Pictures.Other art galleries recently featured on Dezeen include a community centre designed to reflect a 1930s gas station and a bubblegum-pink interior in Paris by local studio Golem.

The photography is by Prudence Cuming.

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