‘Most Stupid Shaped Roof’ Transformed

London’s Hayward Gallery has reopened with a cleverly reconstructed roof which preserves the iconic pyramid rooflights, but now allows controlled natural light into the gallery space below.

The original roof owed its design inspiration in part to artist Henry Moore who wanted to achieve a space where exhibitions could be seen bathed in natural light. But the roof had never been fit for purpose since the gallery opened in the summer of 1968. The 66 sawtooth pyramid rooflights of steel frames infilled with Georgian wired glass were continually beset by problems including degradation and water ingress.

The roof proved so difficult to repair that eventually a false ceiling was installed to protect the precious exhibitions in the gallery from leaks, but losing the gallery 1.5 metres in height and blocking out natural light altogether.

Between September 2015 and 24 January 2018, the gallery was closed for a two-year £35million refurbishment project to restore the pyramid rooflights and once again let controlled natural lighting into the upper galleries.

Most stupid shaped roof
Richard Battye, associate at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios which undertook the roof refurbishment said “‘One thing we have learnt is that the most stupid shaped roof you could put on an art gallery is one made up of pyramids, which amplify sunlight and reflections.”

Battye came up with a clever solution which preserves the iconic look of the roof , fitting two sides of the pyramids with white glass for solar shading, while the other two sides have been left empty to reduce the roof’s weight.

Underneath this outwardly preserved designed sits a horizontal, double-glazed roof light with electronic controllable blinds, and a special, spray-on acoustic finish to the glazing dampens sound in the space beneath.

Bypassing the inherent problems of the creative roof design means that Hayward Gallery now achieves Moore’s intention of an enhanced viewing experience utilising natural daylight without posing any risks to the art works on display below.




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