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National Gallery seeks designer for more public space

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London's National Gallery is looking for a designer to masterplan more exhibition space in its Trafalgar Square buildings, with a view to the eventual car-free plans for the square.

The gallery wants to free up office space and the ground floor to its 1838 building, designed by William Wilkins, for the public. At present the areas are used for administration, but staff are moving to St Vincent House behind the building.

One of the main goals of the masterplan would be to see how the gallery would relate to a pedestrianised Trafalgar Square, said John MacAuslam, director of administration.

'It would be a major public area in an open and friendly civic space which would allow the building to sit more comfortably on the site,' he said. 'This is not a grand Millennial project but an attempt to think through how we can use extra space for public use, such as cafes, exhibition spaces, a micro-gallery or rest areas.' Funding was still being worked out through 'all the normal sources', he added. 'If we change the space into a picture gallery, we can look for donations; if it becomes a micro-gallery, we may look for sponsorship, and some elements may go out to franchisers which will bring in money. If they become public loos it is difficult to see where the money will come from.'

The gallery has advertised for a masterplanner in the ec Journal, and MacAuslam said the gallery would work with the designer for about a year. Major work would probably take more than five years to complete, he said.

Deadline for applications is 1 September 1998. Contact Peter Fotheringham, head of building facilities at the National Gallery, tel: 0171 839 3321.

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