After almost two years of intense building work, The Photographers' Gallery is ready to celebrate its newly renovated and extended HQ at the crossroads of Soho and Oxford Street in London.

The existing brick and steel-frame warehouse building, accessed via the serene Ramilles Street, a few steps down from the bustle of Oxford Street, was redesigned by award-winning Irish architects O'Donnell + Tuomey. The architects extended it upwards and sideways to create much needed, high quality and airy display areas for what is now the largest gallery in London dedicated to photography. The extension also helps support the building's load in a more efficient way.

The new parts are visible, dark-rendered and jut slightly forward towards the street. Towards the top of the building, three levels of clean, minimal, high-ceilinged galleries make for an ideal exhibition space. Beneath these is an office level and a large education and events room (which will include a camera obscura). The ground level hosts a café, while a generous cut of the ground floor slab gives access to a bookshop and print sales area in the basement.

Wood details - such as the untreated hardwood timber façade elements and the oak flooring - are carefully placed throughout, as are a series of large openings that bring in plenty of light. Those openings span floor to ceiling and offer carefully framed views out towards the surrounding urban landscape. In contrast, apart from those few periscope-like openings, the gallery rooms feature no windows, allowing for the very best climate controlled exhibition display halls.

Meanwhile, plans for exhibitions to spill out on the street and take over the nearby building's back walls are in development, with new work being commissioned for an outdoors program. The Gallery is also hoping to get the street pedestrianised in the near future. 'The whole ambience will change,' says director Brett Rogers.

Officially opening on the 19th May with a spectacular exhibition of celebrated Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky's large-format industrial landscape work, titled 'Oil', The Photographers' Gallery is our new favourite cultural destination in Central London.

TAGS: LONDON, GALLERIES, PHOTOGRAPHY