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Studio Octopi completes £1.4m Delfina Foundation expansion

Studio Octopi has completed the refurbishment and expansion of the Delfina Foundation’s London base

The £1.4 million expansion has doubled the capacity of the accommodation making it the largest residency space for international artists in London.  

Studio Octopi’s scheme involved taking over the townhouse next to the foundation’s existing building at 29 Catherine Place near Buckingham Palace and increasing its accommodation and exhibition space to more than 440m2.

The five-storey building includes flexible artists workspaces, a gallery and workshop space on the lower ground floor, a reception and dining area on the ground floor, with offices on the first and residents’ accommodation in the levels above.

Delfina Foundation director Aaron Cezar commented: ‘The expansion creates a home for artistic research, production and exhibition that will be unparalleled in London, while maintaining the intimacy of engagement that has been central to our work with artists, curators, and communities. More so, the conceptual design has the notion of conviviality at its core, creating a space for encounter and exchange.’

Studio Octopi and Cairo-based Shahira Fahmy originally won the contest for the job back in July 2012. The competition promoted a design partnership between architects based in the UK and the Middle East.

Studio Octopi Delfina Foundation

The architect’s view

Adhering to one of the core concepts of the Foundation’s history as a provider of ‘homes’ for artists, we have retained the domesticity of the two houses, exploring the significance of the hearth in a home.

Across cultures and throughout history, the hearth has been an integral part of a household, becoming synonymous with notions of domesticity, and placemaking. Fireplaces are kept in their entirety on the lower floors, and the recesses and hearth stones are retained in the artists’ private spaces.

The designs also set out to maintain the juxtaposition of public and private spaces. The introduction of glazed panels in the floors and walls allow for their integration. Diagonal views across the buildings and through the floors expose the Foundation’s ecosystem at work, as well as opening up the two buildings and bringing in more light throughout the space.

Adopting the role of architect cum archaeologists, we created an environment which is unassuming, layered and contextual, while peeling back the layers of ornamentation and finish to expose the period craftsmanship of the buildings. New insertions are made with a light and considered touch, while detailing is discrete and at times whimsical. Brickwork to the reveals of the new openings is left exposed and overhead concrete lintels retained in their natural state. By leaving materials in their raw state, a reminder of the building’s beginnings is introduced. A sense of permanence is imbued in the two townhouses, linking the present with the past and consequently looking ahead into the building’s exciting future.

Studio Octopi Delfina Foundation

Project data

Location Victoria, London
Type of project Arts foundation
Client Delfina Foundation
Architect Studio Octopi
Funding Private
Tender date January 2013
Start on site date March 2013
Completion date January 2014
Contract duration 10months
Gross internal floor area 445m²
Total cost £1,050,000

Previous story (26.07.12)

Studio Octopi scoops Delfina Foundation contest

London’s Studio Octopi with Cairo-based Shahira Fahmy Architects have won the contest to overhaul and expand the London home of the Delfina Foundation.

The duo beat Rennie & Stagg with Dblu, NEX architecture and Mossessian & Partners to win the project, which will double the size of the cultural organisation’s headquarters. The scheme involves taking over the townhouse next to the foundation’s existing building at 29 Catherine Place near Buckingham Palace and increasing its accommodation and exhibition space to more than 400m2.

When the centre re-opens in autumn 2013 it will provide the largest amount of accommodation for international artists in London, with eight bedrooms and flexible workspaces throughout.

The winning proposal will ‘retain the domesticity of the two houses, exploring the notion of the hearth in a home’.

A spokesman for the foundation said: ‘The two firms presented an environment which is layered and contextual while peeling back the layers of ornamentation and finish to expose the period craftsmanship of the buildings.’

delfina_external_P1090134

The existing buildings at Catherine Place

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