Studio Octopi and Shahira Fahmy design the new Delfina Foundation in London

Image of bright entrance area with art displays
The new space for the Delfina Foundation in London's Victoria opened its doors recently, conceived by local architecture practice Studio Octopi and Cairo-based Shahira Fahmy
(Image credit: TBC)

'Delfina Entrecanales doesn't collect art - she collects artists,' says Aaron Cezar, director of the freshly unveiled Delfina Foundation, which opened its new space in London last week. 

For the past 25 years, the 86-year-old Entrecanales has supported and promoted young artists, with particular emphasis on those from the Middle East and Africa. Her first space in Bermondsey, which she opened in 1992, had 32 studios and a canteen where artists could eat for £1, and her new space is its Victoria reincarnation, with a more homely feel.   

Entrecanales is famously outspoken on the excesses of the art world, so monumental white cubes or slick, modernist townhouses were out. Instead, she selected two upcoming architectural practices, London's Studio Octopi and Cairo-based Shahira Fahmy, to convert two cosy Edwardian townhouses into one unified structure. Original features - such as timber beams, fireplaces and staircases - connect with glass panels, granting views across and between all five floors. In addition to the gallery, there's offices, a library, a communal kitchen and accommodation for up to eight artists. 'Our biggest challenge was interweaving public and private spaces and making them feel domestic,' says Studio Octopi founding director James Lowe. 

With its location 'near the heart of the government and in the new cultural quarter that is Victoria', the foundation is, explains Cezar 'an informal think-tank providing research and artistic production.' The inaugural residency programme focuses on the Politics of Food and opens with an exhibition of the same name. On show are works by ten artists, among them a water fountain by Iranian-Canadian artist Abbas Akhavan comprising a stack of dishes, pots and pans trickling quietly in one corner, while Ghanaian-Swiss artist Senam Okudzeto has strewn oranges across the floor alongside her metal sculptures based on those used by Ghanaian fruit vendors.  

The Politics of Food will unfold over the course of four years, for around one month at a time, and will run in conjunction with other residencies. 'It's like a family home,' smiles Entrecanales, 'and I am the mother.' 

Office within the building featuring a large table and coloured chairs

The building includes offices for the contemporary arts foundation, founded by Delfina Entrecanales and directed by Aaron Cezar

(Image credit: TBC)

Image of a communal kitchen

The architects converted two cosy Edwardian townhouses into one contemporary multi-use space. In addition to the workspaces, there's also a library, gallery and a communal kitchen

(Image credit: TBC)

Image showing glass panel in the floor and doorways into other rooms

Original features such as timber beams and staircases are connected by glass panels, granting views across and between all five floors

(Image credit: TBC)

Image of a stairwell, stairs and glass panel

This open plan approach creates a visually coherent, bright and welcoming interior

(Image credit: TBC)

Large room with a fireplace as a focal point

The original fireplaces were also kept, such as in this in the ground level event room...

(Image credit: TBC)

Image showing an open door out onto a decked area

...which spills out onto a decked terrace

(Image credit: TBC)

Image of fitted units in a green Olive colour

Splashes of colour break up the otherwise muted palette of the space

(Image credit: TBC)

Image of White tall units between a public and private space

The architects saw the interweaving of public and private spaces as one of the project's biggest challenges

(Image credit: TBC)

Image showing the openings in the buildings walls

Openings on the building's walls and floors help create visual continuity throughout

(Image credit: TBC)

Image of the gallery for artists to display their work

The gallery, situated on the lower ground floor, will provide space for the foundation's artists to display their work

(Image credit: TBC)

Image of large double glazed doors with art on the left wall

The inaugural residency programme focuses on the politics of food and opens with an exhibition of the same name

(Image credit: TBC)

Image of a the top floor room showing sloped ceilings with wooden beams

Meanwhile, the building's top floors host accommodation for up to eight artists. The rooms are taken up by the artists in residence at the Delfina Foundation

(Image credit: TBC)

Image of a room with a views through doorways

Accomodation varies in size and type; some are en-suite and some have shared bathrooms

(Image credit: TBC)

Image of the outside of the building

The Edwardian façade of the Delfina Foundation's new space in Victoria

(Image credit: TBC)


Delfina Foundation
29 Catherine Place
London SW1E 6DY


Emma O'Kelly is a contributing editor at Wallpaper*. She joined the magazine on issue 4 as news editor and since since then has worked in full and part time roles across many editorial departments. She is a freelance journalist based in London and works for a range of titles from Condé Nast Traveller to The Telegraph. She is currently working on a book about Scandinavian sauna culture and is renovating a mid century house in the Italian Lakes.