Reply To: National Gallery Extension
Your anorak dos’nt fit you too well Hugh:
Firstly the French stone, not only does not originate from the same geological bed – it isn’t even a close geological match – hence the difference.
This is somewhat akin to arguing that the Chinese Granite used for paving in Dublin is the same as Irish Granite because they both are Granites.
Secondly the Great Court was enclosed up to cornice level – check it out in Fosters own promo literature.
I visited the Museum last winter and this summer – the differences are fairly obvious. The job of work carried out by the architects is pretty good but the French ‘Portland’ is a bit of a disaster.
There is a strong argument for a portico to be realised in a modern idiom – however Fosters rightly assessed the situation as one where the majority of the underlying structure and form survived and sensibly enough opted for re-cladding.
If you contact English Heritage’s technical support service they will be able to ‘put you right’ and further clarify the position regarding the stone.
Pedantry apart (and I’m not sure that it is pedantic to try to match materials correctly when carrying out restoration work) the point here is that local stone can be of use (as can any other ‘local’ contextual material) in tying together new and old. I think this is fairly obvious and cannot imagine that any sensible architect would have much difficulty with such a concept.
The situation in Clare Street is somewhat different – the materials used are not characteristic of the street (to the greater detriment of the new museum) – however it is a decent if somewhat brutalist piece of work and will probably ‘weather the storm’ fairly easily.
In fact, in the end of the day my only major quibble (brutality apart) is that perhaps it might have been more sensible to use a lighter cladding material as the exterior feels somewhat ‘ponderous’.