Constable Studios, Salisbury
This scheme was conceived as a three dimensional painting; the thick masonry walls are akin to brush marks on paper and the overlay of textural materials appear as layered watercolour wash. The site location, less than 350m South West of Salisbury Cathedral, is appropriate as it was here that John Constable painted some of his key landscapes in the 1820s. The proposal comprises both individual and group art studios, a central café, exhibition area and enclosed garden.
The central public space is devoid of vertical supports due to two 30 m glued laminated timber beams which bear the 14 m roof span. In this space, artworks are suspended from low voltage cables whilst sculptures are displayed against a green glass wall. This wall is formed from recycled glass bottles which are crushed, cleaned and annealed in a kiln – a creative process reminiscent of those within the scheme’s ceramics workshop.
The artist studios are housed in two protective bookends constructed from Chilmark stone; a material which references the original Cathedral Close wall bounding the site. Each studio space has been designed with one focal aspect such as an oversized window or top light with a sky view. This notion of focussing the attention reflects the process of meditation and indeed a connection to the rhythms of the sun and seasons can be beneficial to the soul.
Visitors and artists alike are able to enjoy the contemplative garden with meadow planting and a selection of plants chosen to honour the passage of seasons and surrounding trees. The generous timber deck acts as a horizontal canvas for display of the numerous shadows cast between winter branches as well as the carpet of London Plane leaves that are shed in October each year.
A shallow reflective pool to the North of the building, supplied with harvested rainwater, physically reflects the iconic Constable view of Salisbury Cathedral. This pool may also be drained and act as a platform for Salisbury Arts Festival events.