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Hepworth gallery opens in Yorkshire

Consultant Ramboll provides full range of services for the £35M gallery in Wakefield designed by David Chipperfield Architects which opened this week.

Located on formerly derelict industrial land beside a weir in the River Calder, The Hepworth Wakefield is part of a concerted programme of regeneration in the area by Wakefield City Council.

The project has attracted much attention not just because of its well-known architect — also designer of the new Turner Centre in Margate — but also in anticipation of the works of local sculptors and artists that are to be housed there.

For Wakefield was the birthplace of Modernist sculptor Barbara Hepworth, and a number of other leading lights were born in the vicinity, including Henry Moore, David Hockney, Anthony Caro and L.S. Lowry.

Ramboll provided a full range of consultancy services for the project, including water management and land quality, and sustainability, geotechnical, bridge, structural, building services, façade and fire engineering. A fully-integrated whole-building 3D model was developed that included sustainability measures such as the cooling system that draws water directly from the river for circulation through the structure.

Indeed, the River Calder has been a significant player in the gallery’s design. The mass of the structure is part of the area’s flood protection strategy: the fast-flowing river runs right up against gallery walls, and makes spectacular viewing from the specially positioned windows. A Ramboll-engineered bridge across the river has been constructed as part of the project to provide access to the new gallery.

“Ramboll is delighted that our expertise has contributed to this magnificent new centre, the largest purpose built art gallery to open in Britain for 43 years,” said Ramboll director Anton Sawicki.

The new building provides more than 5,000 sq m of floor space — 1,600 sq m of which is galleries — making it the largest purpose-built gallery in the country in recent years.

Its form reflects the mood of the low-rise mill buildings that formerly occupied the site, with the galleries housed in 10 double-height spaces of varying sizes, expressed inside and out, each with a differently skewed roof. Pigmented self-compacting concrete has been used throughout.

The addition of pigment was untried in this country and required the development of dedicated pour techniques to get the meticulous mirror finish specified.

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