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Transparency at the Arnolfini

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Snell Associates has submitted for planning permission its scheme to extend and refurbish Bristol's Arnolfini Gallery. The new building takes as its theme 'transparency and reflections' which Snell says is also a reference to Van Eyck's painting 'The Arnolfini Marriage' after which the gallery was originally named.

The £6 million project involves moving offices out from the original building into an adjacent listed building to address problems of inadequate gallery space and disabled access, and improve the air conditioning to conservation standards. The auditorium will be upgraded and other facilities added.

The new single-storey building, housing a restaurant and cafe, will improve the gallery's relationship to the harbour. It is conceived as a transparent volume embraced by a floating roof, with the kitchen and other services contained within a solid-coloured block.

Snell Associates has worked closely with artist Susanna Heron on the project. Ove Arup and Partners is the structural and services engineer, and Gardiner and Theobald the quantity surveyor. Work should start on site in August 2000.

Snell's project, Chris Wilkinson's Explore building and Michael Hopkins' Wildscreen are in an exhibition called Quay Designs which runs at the Arnolfini until 12 September.

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