FIRSTSITE CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY

Location: Colchester, UK
Scope: Visual Arts Centre
Area: 3,800sqm
Completed: 2011
Budget: £15m
Client: Colchester Borough Council / Firstsite
Architect: Rafael Viñoly Architects
Structural Engineer: Adams Kara Taylor
Services Engineer: Arup
Project Manager: Turner & Townsend
Quantity Surveyor: Turner & Townsend
Sustainability: Arup
Acoustic Consultant: Cole Jarman
Lighting Consultant: BDP Lighting
Landscape Architects: Gross Max
Archaeology: Colchester Museums / Oxford Archaeological Association

Firstsite, a contemporary arts centre, is a new type of social building for cultural activities. The building presents new art works in new ways to capture the imagination of artists and audiences alike.
 
The building’s crescent form responds to the Roman ruins on the site, while maximising natural day lighting and ventilation. The entire facility is on one level, allowing the various uses to connect both physically and visually.
 
The floor reacts to the topography of the site through subtle slopes between areas, creating a feeling of walking down a gently sloping street. The building allows visitors to flow from the entrance down along the south façade, with views onto the public park and the historic Town Wall that borders it.
 
The natural movement through the building relates to the internal functions of the building, leading people through a meandering journey - a range of sensations and responses are experienced as visitors move through the different spaces. 'Use clusters' address the relationship between spaces, audiences and activities.
 
The typical ‘white box’ of the art gallery is turned inside out through the incorporation of controlled natural light and sweeping views of the park.