Architects bid to build £15m gallery

By Juliette MaxamTOP architects from across the country are vying for the chance to build a flagship gallery in Essex to rival the Tate Modern and other top cultural attractions.

By Juliette Maxam

TOP architects from across the country are vying for the chance to build a flagship gallery in Essex to rival the Tate Modern and other top cultural attractions.

More than 100 architects have applied for the chance to take part in a contest to come up with a design for a multi-million-pound visual arts building to be built in Colchester town centre.

It would replace the Minories art gallery, a Georgian building currently home to Firstsite, which is acknowledged to be one of the country's leading contemporary visual art galleries.


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Architects have jumped at the chance to create a landmark building that will have regional, national and international significance.

The jury charged with selecting the design have whittled the applicants down to eight, who will now be given more information about the project so they can write a report on how they would approach the projects and what materials they would use.

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A shortlist of three or four will then be drawn up and they will be asked to come up with a design, which will be put on display so the public can have their say on which plan they preferred. It is hoped that stage will be reached by November or December.

Colchester Borough Council's cultural services manager, Kim Jameson, said: “We had a good choice of over 100 architects to choose from, which is a large number for a competition like this and also the quality of architects was very high.”

The new visual arts building will be behind the Minories, where the bus station is, an area of Colchester set to undergo regeneration.

It is anticipated the new gallery will cost £15million and will be open in three years' time.

The jury responsible for selecting the design includes renowned artist Nathan Coley, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, Sandy Nairn, Colchester Borough Council chief executive Andrea Hill, director of Firstsite, Kath Wood, and Essex University vice-chancellor, Ivor Crewe.

Firstsite director Kath Wood said: “We must look ahead to create a flagship architectural project that can capitalise on Firstsite's strengths to create a visitor experience that works socially, economically and culturally.

“Art can challenge how we think about things, influence our well-being and make significant contribution to our social and economic success.”

juliette.maxam@eadt.co.uk

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