Herbert Gallery

Part of the original masterplan for Coventry’s post-war regeneration, by the end of the century the Herbert Gallery in the heart of the city was beginning to look dilapidated. We teamed up with architects Haworth Tompkins to design the first phase of its extension and refurbishment, which included a radical review of the internal layout.

The building was originally opened in 1960, and although it remained in good condition, its undesirable orientation away from the cathedral and University Square had contributed to a decline in popularity, which our design sought to restore by drawing patrons in through a stunning new double-height entrance providing access to a shop and colonnade café on this historical side of the building.

We exploited latent potential and minimised fundamental structural changes in order to reduce expenditure. Amongst other additions we incorporated two new storeys over an existing canopy, converted the use of a lecture theatre into a music and film studio and mezzanine, and created a pavilion roof overhead.

The existing structure comprised steelwork acting as a portal frame encased in concrete with hollow pot floor slabs, bearing onto concrete pad foundations. We reviewed archives and existing drawings, and combined these with our own structural review of the gallery to ensure the suitability of our proposals.

Where it was not possible to retain the existing structure, we employed lightweight construction techniques; this was particularly necessary in the case of the new exhibition area, where we introduced a new lightweight concrete slab on composite beams, using movement joints to reduce the impact of differential movement on both vertical and horizontal planes.

The impressive saw-tooth roof was wrapped in pre-weathered zinc, its angular edges reminiscent of the nearby cathedral windows. Here we provided office space above the existing building roof, with existing asphalt and screed removed to minimise the impact of this extra load.

Extension and reorganisation of an esteemed art gallery in Coventry’s centre

Coventry, UK
Coventry City Council
Haworth Tompkins
£ 1.5 million