Publicly Accessible Buildings

An icon reimagined

Part of Sir Norman Foster's landmark Sainsbury Centre extensively redeveloped

by Sian 17 November 2011

Celebrated worldwide as one Europe’s most impressive late Modern architectural structures and one of the building blocks of Sir Norman Fosters’ remarkable career, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts is located on the campus of the University of East Anglia and acts as a constant visual inspiration for the institution’s students.

On 4th February 2012 the doors will open to a set of brave new architectural developments at the Centre undertaken by an experienced design team including Foster + Partners and George Sexton Associates. Due to extend over the next few years the scheme will transform the western end of Fosters’ acclaimed structure however the first phase includes the formulation of two new galleries, a post-graduate study centre, a sculpture garden and a chic restaurant and bar.

Foster + Partners have returned to the centre to create a carefully crafted post-graduate centre for the newly-formed Sainsbury Institute for Art (SIfA), dedicated to the study of international visual culture and now offering one of the world’s most impressive bases for the subject. Another new initiative is the introduction of a public Modern Life Café, furnished with high-end designer finishings and offering enrapturing views through the great expanse of glass that has become synonymous with the Sainsbury Centre.

These new enterprises are part of an ongoing initiative to draw closer relationships between the public, UEA’s students, the Sainsbury Centre, and the art within. Director Professor Paul Greenhalgh clarifies: “The Sainsbury Centre has always been known as one of the country’s great centres for scholarship in the visual arts, anthropology and archaeology, and the use of our collections and libraries by researchers from all over the world is one of our main roles.

“But we have some of the greatest works of art imaginable in our building, as well as an extraordinary environment, inside Norman Foster’s masterpiece. We want to share all of this more with the public at large. What better way to do that than to create new vibrant galleries, with a superb restaurant facility? It brings together so many of life’s real pleasures.”

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