Robert Venturi is in for a surprise next time he visits London. The 'collegiatestyle' bookshop he designed for the National Gallery's Sainsbury Wing has been expanded and completely redesigned. 'It was a lovely shop, ' a spokesperson says. 'It had a lovely feel to it, but it was actually very inflexible and hard to find your way around.' Heavy timber shelves were ideal for serious art books, but allegedly less appropriate for the range of merchandise which generates the income to make free admission possible - favourites last Christmas included the sumptuous velvet van Eyck slippers and devore scarves with patterns derived from Holbein's Ambassadors. Design consultancy 20/20 has expanded the trading area by reclaiming foyer space, and demolishing the raised reading room, complete with lecterns, which Venturi envisaged as a space for people to feel cherished ('research' showed that visitors found the space 'intimidating').
Bright lights, modern dipole units and a more user-friendly layout have also been introduced. The Sainsburys gave the project their blessing with a cheery 'We are retailers, after all.' Mr Venturi, who gave the National an outstandingly successful building, has not been consulted.