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FIRST LOOK

Pavilion opens with ‘explosion of colour’ at Dulwich Picture Gallery

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The Colour Palace, a temporary pavilion designed by architecture practice Pricegore and artist Yinka Ilori has opened at Dulwich Picture Gallery for London Festival of Architecture

Described by Ilori as ‘an explosion of colour that immediately demands your attention’, the lightweight structure is raised on monumental concrete ‘elephants’ feet’ and constructed from thousands of individual pieces of hand-painted timber battens assembled in louvres. The façades are decorated in a bold pattern of circles, triangles and squares, arousing much interest from the gallery’s neighbours and passers-by in recent weeks.

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The colourful design, inspired by Dutch wax fabric prints on display in a Lagos market, is intended to represent a multicultural London, fusing European and West African traditions. Even the design team were surprised by the boldness of the colours. ‘The vibrancy and colour have exceeded our expectations,’ said Pricegore and Ilori.

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Spatially, the main design move has been to rotate cubic structure 45 degrees from the plan of the gallery’s permanent buildings. The structure is lifted above a timber platform which will form a stage to host summer events including talks, supper clubs, yoga and art-making.

The structure was mainly prefabricated off-site. The façade panels were the last pieces to be lifted into place last Saturday. Pricegore and Yinka Ilori worked closely with engineersHRW to realise the complex timber structure. One size of batten was used throughout and its steel fixings exposed to reveal the structural logic. Inside, visitors can climb to a perimeter gantry accessed by two stairs and intended to invoke an element of theatre. 

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Pricegore and Ilori were selected for the commission after a competition which attracted 150 entrants. Pricegore is an emerging practice based in Peckham, while Yinka Ilori is a multidisciplinary artist and designer who specialises in up-cycling furniture and other found objects in works that blend Nigerian traditions with contemporary design. The team met after working on the refurbishment of a factory in Wealdstone.

The pavilion will remain open at Dulwich Picture Gallery until 22 September 2019. It is hoped the demountable pavilion will have a life beyond its summer season. It is advertised for sale for £25,000 on The Modern House website.

Architect’s statement

The brief for the Dulwich Pavilion demanded a celebratory response to John Soane’s outstanding historic architecture, and so, having Yinka as part of the Colour Palace design team has really helped us to achieve that. The Colour Palace has been a wonderful opportunity for us to design our first prominent civic building: alongside several exciting housing projects, we hope it will lead to further civic and cultural projects and the chance to work with great clients like the Dulwich Picture Gallery. 

Dingle Price and Alex Gore, directors, Pricegore

The beauty of the pavilion’s design is that it stands bold and proud, surrounded by the history of John Soane’s iconic building, celebrating history and culture. Its patterns and shapes calmly welcome you from a distance until you get closer and closer, and you’re blown away with an explosion of colour that immediately demands your attention. I’m so excited to see how people react to The Colour Palace and how it will bring people from different cultures and communities together. I’m hoping to see people arrive and leave with a smile on their faces – what could be better for the summer!

Yinka Ilori, designer

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Project data

Start on site May 2019
Completion date June 2019
Gross internal floor area 145m²
Form of contract or procurement route JCT Minor Works
Construction cost £150,000
Architect Pricegore with Yinka Ilori
Client Dulwich Picture Gallery, London Festival of Architecture
Sponsors Arts Council England, Gosnells of London, Art Happens campaign
Structural engineer engineersHRW
Furniture suppliers Aper, Very Good, Proper
Paint supplier Mylands
Main fabricator RASKL 

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