'People don't so much wander into the new Allgood Gallery as take a journey straight into the heart of it,' says Stuart Martin of Walker and Martin architects.
Entering through what has been named the 'Time Tunnel', several optical illusions combine to give the user a sense of travelling through it and being 'catapulted into the gallery rather like a pinball', says Martin. Pulsing leds, a sloping floor, metallic walls and asymmetric walls all add to the desired disorientating effect.
The Warren Street building has been Allgood's home for 40 years, and has now been transformed by Walker and Martin into a state of the art showroom and gallery space. The brief was to create a versatile space that could slip seamlessly from day into night, from showroom into seminar and events venue. 'The space is deliberately flat and plain,' explained Stuart. 'The animation comes from the mobile display units and strong form of the staircase.'
The central concrete staircase leads up to the first floor sales office and cafe area. The staircase is intended to encourage cirulation around as well as up, and forms the only fixed element in the space, combining organic concrete with an engineered handrail system that is part of Allgood's range.
Display panels within the staircase feature new products. Designed in collaboration with Alison Borer of Fidget, whopreviously worked on point of sale for Allgood, the motorised colour- coded product panels slide up and down to allow the display to be 'tuned' to particular ranges. The mobile illuminated pods are battery powered, and are charged each night.
The gallery has many quirky touches. In the client wcs, urinals feature glass splashbacks with flashing leds behind, and in the showroom wallcovering changes colour and plays tricks with the light. As Martin explains, 'People should take something away with them when they leave, even if it is just a memory associated with the experience of Allgood.'