The Sainsbury Wing (6)

Following Annabelle Selldorf’s lecture at the RIBA last week, I wrote an article for the online edition of The Critic in support of what she proposes.

Obviously, she does not want to desecrate the original building, but instead, she is making changes to accommodate the large crowds which fill up the ground floor of the Sainsbury Wing, now that the National Gallery has chosen to use it as its primary entrance, probably as much for purposes of security, allowing bag searches in a single place, as for allowing everyone, including wheelchair users, to enter at the same level (the original entrance, however noble, is designed for the gentry of the late 1830s, not six million visitors, half of them tourists).

Eight former Presidents of the RIBA have attacked what she is doing, which seems odd since it is a modification of the street entrance and retains the great bulk of the original first-floor floor plate, which creates the compression which was an important feature of the original design. I know that the Twentieth-Century Society has studied what is proposed with the utmost care and has suggested a number of modifications, many of which, although not all, have now been adopted.

I hope that the ex-Presidents might look at what is now proposed, not the CGI which was widely and in retrospect probably mistakenly published in June and which made the proposals look more radical and less in sympathy with the original than they now are.


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