The Pallant House Gallery is the beautiful combination of a grade one listed Queen Anne townhouse and a contemporary extension, located in the heart of Chichester. Long and Kentish Architects worked in association with Colin St John Wilson to create the extension that has raised the status of the gallery to rival those in London.


The award winning design is a success for numerous reasons. The design and attention to detail needed to marry a new design with such a historically important building is extensive but Pallant House merges the two with ease. British Art of the 20th century dominates the collection within the gallery and so provided the natural basis for the design. The result is evident in the informal entrance and austere façade. Within the interior the same care is applied, for instance the new gallery spaces are designed to match the scale of the original rooms in the townhouse and a careful matching and continuation of materials creates a seamless interior. In terms of lighting the new spaces the extension's contemporary roots are more obvious. Sophisticated skylights that track the sun are utilised to allow controlled daylight to light the new spaces.




Included in the extension is a courtyard garden designed by five times Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist, Christopher Bradley-Hole. The courtyard both softens and highlights the junction of old and new. It gives a viewing platform from which to examine the two designs and also brings the two together in a functional space. Floor to ceiling windows line the courtyard on two sides with the original town house and its boundary walls completing the enclosure. Within the garden you see a mixture of the original brickwork, white painted brick, marble and a grey stone. Vines grow overhead providing natural relief to the hard materials. Besides the core materials and neutral colour palette Bradley Hole also uses a reflective pool to emphasize the townhouse's presence. It is a technique used by the Mies Van der Rohe in the Barcelona Pavilion. The courtyard space is home to an exhibition of robust sculptures and a seating area extending the restaurant. The combination creates a new dimension to the 'white cube space' a new calmer side of the gallery to reflect on what you've visually ingested from both within and outside.


Importantly the extension is not only a success for aesthetic reasons but as a public space. Every inch of the new build had to work in terms of meeting access requirements, creating an atmosphere, or building a space to work or teach in. Curves around the reception hall are a good example of space saving and promoting circulation. A Front of House spokesman even said if there was to be one flaw, 'everywhere in the gallery is so accessible, that we struggle to find a private space.' For visitors to the gallery the space is welcoming as the whole groundfloor is for their use free of charge – the courtyard, an exhibition taster, restaurant, educational rooms, shop and bathrooms.


Sustainable design was a focus in the brief, so the extension boasts a geo-thermal heating and cooling system and, as mentioned earlier, a state-of-the-art natural lighting system. The lighting system not only aims to light the new galleries without electricity but it was designed to give a sense of living to the spaces, when a cloud passes overhead the gallery is said to 'breathe.' The heating and cooling systems create a constant climate in the new spaces, which is hugely important to galleries.

Pallant House Gallery helps to extend the British Art scene past London whilst it enriches West Sussex with prestigious exhibitions housed within a master class of both historical and contemporary design.