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New Art Gallery at Goldsmiths

29 July 2014

Goldsmiths is getting a new gallery. Over the next two years, a pair of disused water tanks on the art school’s campus in Lewisham will be transformed from redundant relics of the Victorian-era Laurie Grove Baths that once occupied the building, into a public hub for contemporary art and exhibitions.

The local (London-based) architectural collective Assemble has won the £1.8m commission. Their design expands on the ‘raw and robust’ original buildings with two steel frame lanterns offering additional exhibition space, and brings the towers back in touch with the wider complex they once supplied. It was selected, from a shortlist of six, by a judging panel chaired by Sir David Chipperfield. Over 80 firms submitted expressions of interest after an open call in May.

Goldsmiths was founded in 1891 and has a rich artistic pedigree. Of the hundred or so artists shortlisted for the Turner Prize since its inception, 24 have been from the school, and seven of those have won. One-time students include the likes of Bridget Riley, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Antony Gormley, who sat on the judging panel. In February 2015, a Christie’s sale of works donated by Goldsmiths’ famous alumni is expected to contribute significantly to the costs of the development.

If the legacy of their existing alumni is anything to go by, the exhibition programme at the new Goldsmiths gallery should be a big draw. It will function not just as a showcase for existing students working in both fine arts and research, but as a stage for international artists and curators.

In 2011, Central Saint Martins’ relocation to the centre of the smartly redeveloped granary complex at Kings Cross pulled the art world’s attention firmly north of the river. With the announcement of this project, Goldsmiths looks to be readying itself to tug it back south.

The Gallery at Goldsmiths is expected to open in autumn 2016.