South London Gallery opens Fire Station building renovated by 6a

South London Gallery opens Fire Station building renovated by 6a

London-based architecture studio 6a has renovated a Victorian Fire Station building and former sausage factory into a new gallery space for the South London Gallery (SLG) in Peckham. The extension, located just across the road from the main gallery, adds new exhibition rooms, a new archive, communal kitchen, education space and artist’s studio to the SLG family.

Slowly growing from its base at 65 Peckham Road, in reputation and size since the 19th century, the SLG has blossomed over the years with numerous updates and expansions in typical London fashion – a conservatory extension in 2010; a Gabriel Orozco-designed garden and the Art Block for families and education in 2016; and now the Fire Station building at 82 Peckham Road.

Facade of the South London Gallery Fire Station building

The facade and entrance of the South London Gallery Fire Station

The Fire Station dates from 1867 and was in operation until 1925, until Kennedy’s Sausages moved in. It received Grade II-listed status in 1991 as one of London’s earliest purpose built Fire Stations and as an example of original Victorian domestic Gothic architecture, yet its fate had been undecided until 2014 when an anonymous buyer donated it to the SLG. Director Margot Heller enlisted 6a to work on the renovation.

Central stairway painted white at the South London Gallery Fire Station

The central staircase painted white at the Fire Station

Founded in 2001, the studio is behind one of London’s most beautiful art galleries – Alex Sainsbury’s Raven Row, a converted house dating back to the 18th century on Artillery Lane in Spitalfields with a fascinating history, as well as Juergen Teller’s West London studio complex, a discreet concrete facade that creatively melts into a low-rise residential neighbourhood near the Westway flyover – both examples of 6a’s ability to weave, patch and layer London’s characterful architecture with contemporary design and purpose.

At the heart of 6a’s charming renovation, which includes three floors of new spaces and a small back garden, a new white-painted grilled metal staircase brightens up the exposed brick and reflects light throughout the building from above.

Original floorboards have been tended to throughout and a loft space in the eaves opened up into an artist’s studio. The Fire Station hosts an opening group show titled ‘Knock Knock’ which celebrates the use of humour as a device in contemporary art featuring works by Maurizio Cattelan, Sarah Lucas and Ugo Rondinone. §

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