Internationally acclaimed artist Alan Johnston has used buildings around the world as the backdrop for his installations, but the next piece of architecture to play host to his work looks set to be located no further than the bottom of his Edinburgh garden.
Johnston has appointed Edinburgh-based practice Reiach & Hall Architects to design a new £40,000 studio in the grounds of his house in the affluent suburb of Barnton. The new building will act as a workshop for Johnston but the architect says the building will have the feel of 'the ubiquitous white gallery space'. This attempt to bring the features of a gallery and a workshop close together is to reflect the artist's interest in working closely with architecture. He has produced installations in Vienna, Basel and Japan during his career and has completed a number of works by drawing directly onto walls and taking their architectural features as his cue. (Johnston's work is explored in a 10-page feature starting on p28. ) Reiach & Hall partner Neil Gillespie has been working with Johnston on this project and hopes to submit designs for planning consideration within the next two months.
'It's a very, very straightforward design and is essentially a double cube, ' said Gillespie. 'In the first place we each did sketches and both came up with very similar designs.'
The building will have a 4.5m high ceiling, around the height of a Georgian drawing room, and will be built using a wooden frame. This will be clad with wooden slats stained a grey-green colour which will run vertically on the longest elevation and horizontally on the shortest. This detail is an attempt to make the gallery reflect Johnston's artwork and his interest in lines. There will be one full-height window which will dominate the building but Gillespie wants to keep the design as low-key as possible.' The whole point is to be relatively modest, ' he said. 'You might even describe it as a big hut.'