In 2008, Saatchi Gallery took over the beautiful building Duke of York’s HQ near Sloane Square in the heart of Chelsea, London’s exclusive artistic area. The building, which is listed as worthy of preservation, originally belonged to the British Ministry of Defence. It was quite run-down and in need of thorough interior restoration and architectural renewal.
The esteemed English architectural firm Allford Hall Monaghan Morris was in charge of the restoration project, where the choice fell on Douglas wooden floors consisting of 12 metre long planks that are up to 45 centimetres wide.
“In constructing details that enhance and clarify the architectural idea, Dinesen timber has served an important role in key projects such as The Saatchi Gallery and the Angel Building. The quality and patina Dinesen flooring attains reflects my interest in an architecture of space and detail that not only endures over time but thrives”.
Simon Allford, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Harmonious and dynamic rooms
In the interior design, the architects have fully brought out the qualities of the Dinesen wooden floor. The warm, light Douglas floor planks provide a contrast to the white walls, which creates a harmonious expression in the gallery rooms. With the clean and simple expression, the interior avoids stealing focus from the artworks on display. The large dimensions of the planks also allowed the architects to bring a special sense of dynamics and movement into the rooms.
Normally, the floorboards would be laid length-wise in the building, but since this is a gallery, the floorboards are laid across the room to guide the visitor to the sides where the art is hung. If the floorboards were to run parallel to the direction of the length of the room, the visitor’s gaze would automatically be drawn through the room, and people would move through the gallery faster.
Saatchi Gallery contains fourteen large exhibition rooms with a wall height of over 4 metres. The rooms form a series of connected spaces. Large openings from the ceiling to the floor between the rooms let the visitor look through the full length of the building. The open layout and the large rooms invite people to explore the gallery and make the building an ideal exhibition venue.
The focus is on contemporary art by young artists who have rarely been exhibited in the UK. The exhibitions typically invite reflection and often challenge the beholder. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, Saatchi Gallery staged seven of the most visited exhibitions in London. See the current exhibition.
The close cooperation between Dinesen and Saatchi Gallery has led Dinesen to be appointed a “Founding Patron of Saatchi Gallery”. Over the years, Dinesen has held several events at the Saatchi Gallery, where architects, designers and other business partners have been able to enjoy art and architecture in the duke’s old headquarters.