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Nottingham Contemporary
Caruso St John

March 26, 2012 /

Nottingham, United Kingdom

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

The facades are developed as a continuous patterned surface of pale green pre-cast concrete elements, the cast pattern taken from a specific example of Nottingham lace.

The close relationship between the interior of the building and the topography of the land means that the character of Nottingham Contemporary has fundamentally emerged from the specific qualities of its site. An existing north-south public route through the site has been given a renewed purpose by its adjacency to this new public building.

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

We were interested in the presence of the cliff and the way that it elevates the southern edge of the Lace Market, so that several ranges of buildings are presented, almost in elevation, to the south of the city. While the line of the cliff is reinforced by the low slung body of the building, the profile of Nottingham Contemporary is distinctive and becomes a part of the spectacular view from the south, where the buildings of the Lace Market form a crown against the sky. The roof volumes build up in size towards High Pavement and have a clear relationship to the volume and scale of the existing Georgian townhouses that line the southern edge of the Lace Market./Adam Caruso

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

At High Pavement, to the north of the site, a covered yard provides a generous outdoor space at the entrance to the building, and a starting point for this public route. Garner's Hill Stairs have been straightened and made more than 5 metres wide, and the route southwards affords views and access to each of the levels of the interior. A large canopy, like a cinema marquee marks the point of entry, and even before entering, one can see art within the depth of the building.

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

Passing through glazed entrance doors one enters into the first in a network of five rooms. The ground floor galleries have a 4.5 metre clear height and even top lighting that is moderated by a grid of lightweight coffers that are suspended within the steel roof structure. The galleries are defined by thin, non load bearing walls, and are connected by large glazed openings that afford views across the width and length of the floor and which lend flexibility to how this suite of rooms can be used.

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

The northern most gallery is 10 metres high and has a single large roof light and a 9 metre wide window facing Weekday Cross and beyond towards the centre of Nottingham.

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

The lower exhibition space is a large, lozenge shaped room, 7.5 metres high and formed in concrete. One can feel that this room is built deep into the sandstone cliff. The 1.5 metre depth of the concrete beams that span the space accommodate a fully flexible theatrical rig. Retractable bleacher seating enables the space to be used for cinema and performance as well as for visual art.

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

To the south is the café and bar that can be independently entered from Lower Yard. In the middle of the building a mezzanine level accommodates education and office spaces.

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

The facades of Nottingham Contemporary are developed as a continuous patterned surface of pale green pre-cast concrete elements. The cast pattern is taken from a specific example of Nottingham lace, which itself was a machine made copy of a French hand made original. The lace was scanned, and then the scale, tiling and contrast of the two dimensional image was worked. This modified image was then converted into a three dimensional description which was used to drive a milling machine that produced a full sized positive in MDF which was then used to make hard latex moulds.  Four, 14 meter long latex moulds were used to cast all of the pre-cast elements on the building.

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

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Photo: Helene Binet, courtesy Caruso St John

The two rooftop monitors, figures that give Nottingham Contemporary its silhouette within city's skyline are clad in tall sheets of gold anodized aluminum which have been given a gently billowing profile that serves to stiffen the very thin material.

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Drawing courtesy Caruso St John Site Plan
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Drawing courtesy Caruso St John Basement Floor Plan
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Drawing courtesy Caruso St John Ground Floor Plan
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Drawing courtesy Caruso St John Mezzanine Plan
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Drawing courtesy Caruso St JohnSection
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Drawing courtesy Caruso St JohnElevation

Facts about Nottingham Contemporary

Gross internal floor area:

3,400 m2

Architects:


Caruso St John

Project Team:

Adam Caruso
Tim Collett
Christiane Felber
Adam Gielniak
Emily Greeves
Kornelia Gysel
Viktor Jak
Adam Khan
Ah-ra Kim
David Kohn
James Payne
Sabine Rosenkranz
Bernd Schmutz
Peter St John
Stephanie Webs
Frank Woessner

Project Managers:

Mouchel, Jackson Coles

Structural Engineers:

Arup, Elliott Wood (external works)

Services Consultant:

Arup

Fire, Security:

Arup

Quantity Surveyor:

Jackson Coles

Planning Supervisor:

Jackson Coles

Lighting Consultant:

Arup

Access Consultant:
David Bonnet Associates

Theater Consultant:

Charcoalblue

Acoustic Consultant:

Tim Lewers

Lace Surface Development:

John Angus, University of Derby, Textile Studies
Main Contractor: ROK/SOL Construction

Client:

Nottingham City Council
Nottingham Contemporary

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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