Oriel Myrddin Gallery in Camarthen, south-west Wales, is the leading publicly-funded art and craft gallery in the region. Located in a listed Victorian building in the centre of Carmarthen and offering an impressive temporary exhibition programme, the gallery is integral to the town’s identity and cultural scene. We were delighted to win an invited competition to explore the potential of a narrow urban infill site, located adjacent to the main façade of the gallery and currently occupied by a disused bus stop.
Bearing in mind Oriel Myrddin Gallery’s egalitarian and aspirational principals (“to operate an inclusive, free art gallery engaging, challenging and enabling local and regional visitors of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to participate in the gallery’s exhibitions and education programmes”), our aim was to integrate art back into the community. As many people feel intimidated by galleries, we wanted our design for this extension to feel welcoming and open, so passers-by could almost stroll into the building from the pavement without realising they were entering a gallery.
We proposed a new flexible studio space to be used for educational activities, community programmes, gallery functions and artist residencies, and included a bespoke moveable desk so an artist in residence could inhabit various spaces around the gallery for different events and activities.
Referencing historical Carmarthen store fronts, our design also included two retractable canopies and floor-to-ceiling glass folding doors to embrace the public space outside. The ‘saw tooth’ roof we envisioned echoed the factories once typical of the surrounding area and was designed to funnel natural light into the new building, whilst the use of brick paid homage to the gallery’s existing façade by George Morgan.
In all, our winning design was a unified proposal that offered a distinctive, useful and inviting building extension.
Oriel Myrddin Gallery
Camarthen, South Wales