Walsal Art Gallery Civic Square ©Kinnear Artas-ua.info Architects Ltd

In 1999 the new Walsall Art Gallery began the regeneration of the canalside area of Walsall. The Art Gallery sits in a space that signifies a shift in scale from the low rise development and narrow streets of the town centre to the larger scale industrial spaces of the canal side. The design of the Art Gallery square unifes these two disparate landscapes.

Animation of the square occurs when it is occupied – people visiting the gallery, passing through, gathering to have a drink, parking their bikes or eating lunch – a space separate from but adjacent to the town centre. Objects on the square were located in a random way by casting pebbles onto the surface of the project model.

The design collaboration between KLA, Caruso St John and Richard Wentworth involved research focused on the inherent qualities of road surfacing. Two tonal extremes were picked from specialist ranges of asphalt to give the outsize stripes that identify the scheme concept –pedestrian symbol on a roadsurface.

The Art Gallery, Pub Café and canal side buildings sit upon this striped carpet, with the canal cut out of the carpet.  The material refers to the language of vehicular spaces, but has been manipulated to glamorise it for pedestrian use.

Lighting is on the 18m tall galvanized steel columns which tower over the space and relate to the scale of the gallery, creating a large high volume of light which has a distinctively different  quality and brightness to the lighting of the nearby streets. The lighting columns aid the shift in scale from the town centre streets to the larger scale of the industrial scale canal side.

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