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Competition: Dulwich Pavilion 2019

The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) has launched a second design contest for a temporary events pavilion outside John Soane’s Grade II*-listed Dulwich Picture Gallery (Deadline: 9 April)

The competition, backed by the gallery, invites emerging architects to draw up proposals for a temporary welcome space featuring a café or bar which will be constructed next to the historic structure in summer 2019.

Emerging practice IF_DO won the inaugural contest for the temporary Dulwich Pavilion, which occupied the site during last year’s festival and is due to be relocated to nearby Goose Green Primary School. Shortlisted designs for the latest commission will be exhibited inside the gallery during this year’s festival in June.

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery

LFA director Tamsie Thomson said: ‘We’re delighted to be working with the Dulwich Picture Gallery again, and looking forward to the installation of the second Dulwich Pavilion.

‘The project is a fantastic opportunity for emerging architects and, as the first Dulwich Pavilion demonstrated, is not only a springboard to success but also a wonderful way to engage the wider public in London’s dazzling architectural scene.’

Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Jennifer Scott said: ‘The 2017 pavilion was an extraordinary project which highlighted the potential of contemporary architecture and creative programming to engage visitors and enhance the Dulwich Picture Gallery experience.

‘With the 2019 pavilion competition, we are throwing down the gauntlet to emerging architects to address how a temporary structure can offer inspiring solutions to practical visitor needs while entering into conversation with the historical excellence of Soane’s ground-breaking original design. I am excited to see what will emerge.’

IF_DO director Al Scott said: ‘As a young and emerging architecture practice, the Dulwich Pavilion project gave us the opportunity to design a new public structure for notable clients, in an exceptional location.

‘The trust placed in us by the Dulwich Picture Gallery, with the support of Tamsie Thomson at the LFA, gave us the freedom and confidence to deliver the building as we conceived it, which was a truly amazing experience. It was enjoyable to watch the pavilion in use over the summer, and the memory of the experience will stick with us as a turning point for IF_DO.’

IF_DO's competition-winning Dulwich Pavilion 2017

IF_DO’s competition-winning Dulwich Pavilion 2017

Source: Image by Joakim Boren

IF_DO’s competition-winning Dulwich Pavilion 2017

The south London gallery, which marked its 200th anniversary last year, is believed to be England’s oldest public gallery.

The innovative brick building features a series of interlinked, top-lit rooms which helped redefine standard approaches to gallery design. Rick Mather Architects renovated the building and created a separate café and exhibition space nearby in 2001.

The inaugural contest sought ideas for a temporary pavilion to host exhibitions, events, lectures and learning activities, and to allow the Dulwich Picture Gallery to meet growing visitor numbers and harness new revenue streams.

The latest pavilion competition seeks proposals for a ‘refreshing welcome and orientation space’ reflecting Soane’s ‘innovative, high quality and problem-solving’ approach to architectural design.

Applications should include a covering letter, team biography, a short expression of interest and a portfolio of relevant schemes.

Six shortlisted teams will be invited to draw up conceptual proposals and create physical models which will be exhibited inside the Dulwich Picture Gallery during the LFA this summer. Each team will receive a £500 honorarium.

Judges include Thomson, gallery director Jennifer Scott, IF_DO’s Al Scott, architect Mary Duggan, architectural writer Tom Dyckhoff, Dulwich Picture Gallery trustee Stefan Turnball and the Guardian’s architecture and design critic Oliver Wainwright. An overall winner will be selected in early July.

How to apply

The deadline for applications is 5pm, 9 April

Contact details

Ellie Manwell
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Gallery Road
SE21 7AD


Visit the competition website for more information

Dulwich Pavilion 2017 case study: Q&A with Al Scott

The director of IF_DO discusses lessons learned designing last year’s competition-winning pavilion

How did your competition-winning scheme deliver an appropriate events space for the Dulwich Picture Gallery?

Flexibility was important as the pavilion needed to provide a space that could host a wide variety of events over the summer. We were keen to design an engaging, contextual piece of architecture which responded to, and encouraged others to respond to, the uniqueness of the site. The pavilion was positioned to the left of the main entrance to the gallery, visible from the main road and acting like a beacon, bringing people into the gallery grounds and encouraging social interaction, both accidental and planned. The lightweight timber truss roof cantilevered large distances, under which movable screens could be arranged in multiple configurations. This provided not only an ever-changing relationship between structure and context, but an ever-changing experience for visitors.

IF_DO's competition-winning Dulwich Pavilion 2017

IF_DO’s competition-winning Dulwich Pavilion 2017

IF_DO’s competition-winning Dulwich Pavilion 2017

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

We definitely think the building model sealed the competition win for us. At competition stage we focused on an intricate 1:50 handmade model, which not only illustrated the concept well but demonstrated an attention to detail in terms of construction and materiality, giving the judges confidence in the design. In addition to the model, we produced plans, sections and axonometrics, and visuals. After we won, we speedily produced new visuals in collaboration with Forbes Massie (with whom we work frequently) as we didn’t think our photoshopping was up to scratch for media release.

IF_DO's competition-winning Dulwich Pavilion 2017

IF_DO’s competition-winning Dulwich Pavilion 2017

IF_DO’s competition-winning Dulwich Pavilion 2017

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a new welcome space for the gallery?

Consider delivery — pay attention to the parameters, and know exactly how your pavilion will go together, and how it will come down. Involving engineers at the early stages worked well for us. Most importantly, this is a dream brief for any emerging architect — a temporary summer pavilion in a beautiful location, and with such a rich context from which to draw inspiration, brilliant clients, and the support of the London Festival of Architecture. Our advice would be: embrace the culture of the gallery, be bold, and enjoy it.

IF_DO's competition-winning Dulwich Pavilion 2017

IF_DO’s competition-winning Dulwich Pavilion 2017

IF_DO’s competition-winning Dulwich Pavilion 2017

Q&A with Tamsie Thomson

The LFA director discusses her ambitions for the competition

Tamsie Thomson

Tamsie Thomson

Tamsie Thomson

Why are your holding a contest for a new welcome space at the Dulwich Picture Gallery?

Last year the Dulwich Picture Gallery celebrated 200 years of public opening with an ambitious bicentenary programme. The first LFA Dulwich Pavilion was a major part of this celebration and hosted a range of hugely popular events. Both we and the gallery were delighted at its reception and the impact it had on growing and broadening the diversity of the gallery’s audience. The idea of a regular biennial competition, where the competition is launched around one festival in time to be built for the next really appeals to us. We didn’t start from the notion that we needed a pavilion but that there were two problems we needed to solve. Architects don’t just create uplifting architecture, first and foremost they’re really good problem solvers.

What is your vision for the new welcome space?

The Sir John Soane-designed gallery is a wonderful space but is sadly much smaller than the gallery’s ambition! This limits the breadth of its public programme and catering offer for new audiences. A multipurpose outdoor structure allows visitors, practitioners from across the arts, students and event guests the opportunity to enjoy creative, joyful experiences inspired by the gallery’s history, paintings and architecture. We want an open space that celebrates the gallery’s identity as an architectural masterpiece. We will be welcoming approaches that reflect the architecturally innovative, high-quality and problem-solving approach brought by Sir John Soane back in the 1800s.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

We run a range of competitions throughout the year, but the DPG competition is specifically aimed at emerging practitioners. We welcome collaborations, however the project must be actively led by a named emerging architect or designer. We define emerging as by being no more than seven years post-graduate. We will also expect the lead collaborator and project contacts to be available for fortnightly meetings at the gallery and to take the lead in realising design-to-build process.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

The festival is working across four area focuses this year. The deadline has just closed for our competition for the Thessaly Road Railway Bridge. This is a really exciting opportunity for public realm renewal and a real contrast to the Dulwich Pavilion. Over the next few months, we’ve got some more exciting competitions coming up with our other Area Focuses including London Bridge, City of London and Silvertown. These are each unique parts of the city with their own identity. These upcoming competitions will respond to these unique areas.

Are there any other similar pop-up welcome space projects you have been impressed by?

We had not come across IF_DO before last year’s competition. Off the back of their pavilion, they’re now a ten-strong practice. IF_DO’s amazing work and the audience figures they helped generate have convinced us and the gallery that we can do it all over again. We’re delighted that IF_DO will be on the judging panel!

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