Assemble have designed a new permanent exhibition and gallery, Being Human for the Wellcome Collection. The exhibition presents over 50 artworks, divided into four thematic groups; Genetics, Minds & Bodies, Infection and Environmental Breakdown. Each section is a focused exploration of what it means to be human in the 21st Century.
Situated on the first floor of the Wellcome Collection, Euston Road, London, the gallery is conceived as a hall for contemplation. Previously hidden windows are uncovered to provide natural light throughout, and a new stained oak floor has been laid in a giant parquet to echo the rhythm of the galleries’ existing column and beam structure.
Colourfully stained larch panels provide the backdrop to field of large-scale, freestanding timber plinths.
The plinths and furniture are constructed from CLT (cross laminated timber), a material more commonly used for non-visual structure in buildings. The standardised, factory produced panel is sanded to reveal the 3-ply, end grain of the spruce. Materially expressive, the result is something like a scaled up, jumbo plywood.
The design for the gallery was developed in wide consultation with disability groups. Plinths overhang to help give wheelchair users better access to labels and bases are blackened to create a visual contrast with the oak floor. Benches for films are also placed off centre, to ensure equal viewing opportunities for wheelchair users.
The gallery is arranged to give equal prominence to both stair and lift entrances and open views throughout the gallery are maintained to help visitors with anxiety feel comfortable in the space.
Captions designed by Kellenberger White include both braille and written text and a tactile map and interpretations of key objects were designed and produced by Tactile Studio.