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Anish Kapoor Studio by Caseyfierro Architects

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Caseyfierro’s ongoing project for Anish Kapoor has transformed a south London street, says Laura Mark 

PROJECT DATA

Turner Prize-winning artist Anish Kapoor had been based in a space on a suburban street in Camberwell surrounded by a school and a housing estate for more than 20 years. But what was once a collection of dilapidated industrial buildings has now been transformed into an expanse of purpose-designed studio spaces. 

Since the first building in the jigsaw-like project completed in 2012, Caseyfierro has incrementally developed spaces along the street and now, finally, the whole block of six studios has completed. 

The six studios all vary and are somewhat guided by their original use. Although the spaces have seen a lick of white paint, many of the industrial buildings’ features remain. The floors, for instance, have been left largely as found. In certain spaces walls have been left untreated where Kapoor had previously sketched directly on to the surfaces, showing the artist’s long-term relationship with the building. Large windows punctuate the existing walls at carefully placed intervals, allowing light in but maintaining privacy, while large folding doors onto the street provide access for transporting Kapoor’s larger works of art. 

Source: Jim Stephenson

In the first studio, which completed in 2012, is Kapoor’s private studio space. It’s a quiet retreat away from the busy goings-on of some of the other internal spaces. A 9m-tall north-lit space has been carved out of what was once a dairy by removing a significant area of the first floor. This space is marked on the outside of the building by glazed panels, which glow from within at night. 

The space seems to battle between the clean, white palette of an art gallery and the messier activities of a workshop and studio. Individual spaces have different atmospheres and sounds. In one workers in white overalls are working on a huge piece supported from above by crane gear; from next door comes the whirr of a polishing machine, while in another, more contemplative room, flooded by north light, Kapoor is silently working. 

The sprawling studios are cram-packed with work. From sculptures leaning against walls, to half-finished pieces abandoned on shelves or strewn across the floor. It is an eye-opening look at how the artist works. 

My visit also gives some insight into how the architect, Michael Casey, who began his career on Herzog & de Meuron’s Tate Modern, worked with his client. As we wander around the spaces I’m ushered away as Kapoor approaches and, as we look down on his studio space from above, we are moved away from the viewing window as Kapoor comes in to begin work. I see that this client-architect relationship was one built on a certain understanding of when to talk and when to leave alone. This was most important, as the whole scheme was created while Kapoor and his 25 staff continued to work in the space. Casey says Kapoor was a good client – open to new ideas and understanding. 

At a time when many are concerned that artists are being pushed out of the capital by the increasing cost of studio space, Kapoor has developed an aspirational space. Due to his status in the art world it does very little to signal what can be done on a tight budget – which here has been kept confidential. But it does show what an architect with experience can bring to a former industrial space through careful interventions and knowledge of the way the client works. 

In this project Caseyfierro has used its experience of designing contemporary art galleries to create a space which provides both a gallery and storage but in the main functions as a working studio. It is light-filled and simple, with details that do not detract but allow the art work to sit at ease within the space: a comfortable space not just for Kapoor, but also for those who work for him. 

Anish Kapoor Studio by Caseyfierro Architects

Anish Kapoor Studio by Caseyfierro Architects

Source: Jim Stephenson

Project data

Location Camberwell, south London
Type of project Artist’s studio
Client Anish Kapoor
Architect Caseyfierro Architects
Appointed 2010
Completed 2015
Area 3,100m2

Anish Kapoor Studio by Caseyfierro Architects

Anish Kapoor Studio by Caseyfierro Architects

Source: Jim Stephenson

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