Gasworks is a public gallery space in South London existing alongside twelve artists studios and an international residency programme. How can the venue attract a local audience and what issues should inform the architectural redevelopment of the space? During Layout-Gasworks Kathrin and Andreas spent five weeks at the gallery. They literally opened up the space to public exposure by creating a public on-site office that spilled out onto the pavement. Formal and informal meetings where held around the street bound table comprising of local residents, businesses and other professionals at the risk of being pelted with fruity ammunition by kids from the adjacent housing estate. A large number of contacts and conversations were made with passers by, neighbours, Gasworks artists', staff and visitors, local initiatives and cultural venues, representatives of the Council and various peer groups. As the research developed, it was made visible through sprawling coloured posters and notices pasted onto the gallery's exterior walls, jerking the ever passing passer by into recognition of the building's presence and function. A database of the captured findings was made public through a website which functioned as a tool for representing the research process and became a mapping device for a growing field of ideas, suggestions and comments.
The pool of information and experience gained during the process led to a catalogue of proposals which refer to the different one to one, social and local relationships Gasworks Gallery has with various people and organisations, including artists, members of staff, gallery visitors, local tenants associations, visiting artists, and neighbouring groups in the North Lambeth area. The Lay Out experience helped to identify the potential of the resources and possibilities of the gallery both to its own staff and users and to those less familiar with it. To download a pdf version of the catalogue of proposal please click here
The implementation of various proposals took place during 2004 and were launched with the reopening of the Gallery in early November. The ground-floor of Gasworks has been significantly redesigned, incorporating new social spaces, research facilities and an interactive interface with the street. One large entrance serves now for all users of the building, and can be folded sideways to open the Reception and communal space of the ground-floor towards the street. A large steel frame that incorporates a billboard for new artist commissions slides across the façade and the new entrance door, extending the activities and visibility of the Gallery across the street front.