Construction work has started on a new £40 million flagship arts complex in Guildhall Square, central Southampton.
The Guildhall Square site, opposite the Guildhall itself, will feature two buildings with a passage through to the parks between them. The site was previously occupied by department store Tyrell and Green, part of the John Lewis partnership, which closed in 2000 when the store moved into West Quay under the John Lewis name. The former building was demolished in 2006 and the site has stood empty since.
Construction work is set to start in earnest with hoardings already being put in place to close the passage from Guildhall Square through to the parks beyond.
The new centre will finish the City Council’s plans to create a cultural quarter in the city. At present, the quarter includes the Guildhall, City Art Gallery, SeaCity museum, the BBC studios and, on the very edge, the Mayflower Theatre.
The new centre will become home to a completely new performing arts venue, city film group ‘City Eye’ and the University of Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery. It will also house six restaurant outlets and around 40 flats.
The John Hansard Gallery is at present located in a 1950s constructed building on Highfield Campus, designed to hold a tidal model of Southampton Water and was converted into the present gallery in 1980. It’s location however means that it is relatively inaccessible for Southampton residents. This new move will bring the contemporary art collection into the spotlight of Southampton’s art scene. The gallery itself will now have some experience with operating in central Southampton following their John Hansard Gallery Central experimental space last year.
The new gallery is set to open in 2015/16 and will cost around £40 million, of which £7.3 million has come from Arts Council England. It is being constructed by Grosvenor and was designed by architects CZWG.
A broader view can be found on Southampton City Council’s website.