Zaha Hadid to transform former munitions depot in Kensington Gardens into public art space in time for London 2012 Olympics
After a fierce battle between three major players in the artistic field, the Serpentine Gallery has been awarded the licence to transform a currently underused Grade II Listed property in Kensington Gardens into a public art space.
Other contenders for the classic building included Damien Hirst and the Halcyon Gallery. It is thought that Hirst intended to display his private collection within The Magazine, with pieces by Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons contrasted by his own controversial creations.
This was not to be however, and plans are now in motion to adapt the listed building into a public gallery nurturing young and lesser known artistic talents. Built in the early nineteenth century as a munitions depot for the army in the event of a foreign invasion or a popular uprising, the Magazine building has not housed munitions for the last 50 years
Still on a role from her recent RIBA Stirling Prize win, Zaha Hadid has been selected by the Serpentine Gallery and The Royal Parks to design the internal renovation of the property and - subject to planning permission and listed building consent - an additional extension pavilion to host a range of social and restaurant facilities.
If the current plans are followed through, the new structure will almost double the current space owned by the Serpentine Gallery in time for the London 2012 Olympics. This huge extension to the well-established Gallery has been made possible by a vast donated (and currently undisclosed) sum from the Dr Mortimer & Theresa Sackler Foundation.
Whilst the Serpentine Gallery is being somewhat coy about the amount received from the organisation, it has said that it is the largest sum donated to the gallery in its 40 year history. The newly renovated Magazine building is therefore to be named in honour of the Foundation, as the Serpentine Sackler Gallery.
Julia Peyton-Jones, Director and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Gallery said: "This is an opportunity of a lifetime for the Serpentine Gallery. We have been interested in the potential of the building for some time and how it could help us expand the range of what we do.
"In these challenging times, we feared the opportunity would be lost. We are very grateful to our long-term friends for their very generous assistance, which has made it possible for us to create this exciting, new platform for the UK and beyond."