Situated adjacent to Deptford Town Hall and the busy high street, The Laurie Grove Baths has had a central role in Lewisham’s cultural history. Built in 1898, the swimming baths, slipper baths and public laundries provided an important amenity for generations of local people until the complex closed in 1991. Today the main Bath halls are used as artists’ studios.
The Gallery comprises the former water tanks and service areas of the Baths. Assemble’s approach seeks to identify this ‘hidden’ aspect of Lewisham’s social history by opening up these traditional ‘back-of-house’ spaces to create a new interface with the public. The raw and robust nature of the Victorian service spaces has a powerful quality. The gallery has been moulded from these found conditions, creating an ensemble of rooms able to host a diverse and challenging artistic programme.
The Bath’s cast iron water tanks have been preserved and made accessible, whilst new top-lit galleries have been created to provide a distinct spatial counterpoint: a new whole, comprised of found spaces, adapted spaces and inserted spaces.
Central to the proposal is a double-height project space, formed by carving a void within the existing floor plate. This will become the theatrical and social heart of the building and, through hosting a range of events from talks to performances and screenings, will offer opportunities to engage the public in the on going conversation of contemporary art practice.
Assemble were appointed as designers for Goldsmiths CCA following an open architectural competition held by Goldsmiths, University of London in 2014. The project has been realised with the ongoing enthusiastic support of Goldsmiths staff and alumni, and in design collaboration with Alan Baxter Associates and Max Fordham Engineers.