Replacing the Hayward Gallery with a new building on the Hungerford car- park site would be the best solution for the gallery, believes its director Susan Ferleger Brades (see page 18), denting the argument of those pressing for the building's retention under the new masterplan for the South Bank Centre.
'We have something of value,' Brades said, 'But it could be that a new building gives us something better with less compromise.' Brades, who has worked for the Hayward since 1980, values the exhibition spaces for their flexibility, ability to take different architectures and volumetric complexity. But, she says, there are fundamental problems, not all of which can be addressed by refurbishment.
These include the lack of space for education, corporate hospitality, a proper cafe, storage, staff offices (Brades and her team are based in the Royal Festival Hall), and for an adequate shop. The existing shop is too small, and eats into the gallery space of 1400m2. 'I want that 1400m2 back,' said Brades, who ideally would like another 450m2 to accommodate the size of exhibitions which are becoming the norm. In addition, she would like 270-450m2 for a gallery dedicated to showing works from the Arts Council collection. This gallery could be open all year round, helping Brades in her ambition to make the gallery into a destination for visitors. She also would like a lecture theatre for 150-200 people.
At present the gallery closes for a long time between exhibitions, partly as a result of its acoustic permeability which makes it impossible to change an exhibition in one part of the gallery while the other part remains open. The gallery also has limiting structural problems in terms of floor loadings and size of doorways. For last year's Anish Kapoor exhibition, for instance, 'we had to go through physical hoops, an incredible engineering exercise, to bring in one 5.5-tonne sculpture'. Even then, there was only one place in the gallery where it could go. Terry Farrell and partners has applied to become masterplanner of the South Bank.
Under the Rogers masterplan, explained Brades, the team started looking at refurbishment options in general terms and had 'already experienced conflict' such as a trade-off between an improved goods lift and better floor loadings. Brades would therefore favour a new building on part of the Hungerford car park site. And she also knows what kind of building she wants: 'I would want a characterful space that can do anything,' she said. 'I don't think the new Hayward should be a clean, cool minimal space. It should have a certain robustness, a range of spaces, be multi-levelled. There are all sorts of characteristics we would be looking to articulate and bring with us without replicating what we have.'