The South London Gallery in Peckham is £1m shy of its £4m target to fund the restoration of what may be one of the last, if not the last, remaining purpose-built Victorian fire stations in London. The plan is to transform the Grade II-listed building, which is down the road from the gallery, into a satellite space for shows and events. The gallery hopes to start the work in January 2017, so that the space can open in 2018. The firm 6a Architects, which is behind the extension at the gallery’s main site, is working on the project.
Later additions to the Gothic- style structure, which was built in 1867 and converted into a sausage factory in the 1920s, are being stripped away to reveal as much of the original footprint as possible.
The public got its first glimpse of the fire station, which was given to the institution by an anonymous donor in 2014, when Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today, organised with the Guggenheim, opened on 10 June (until 4 September). Although the major restoration work has yet to begin, a section of the first floor has already been shored up to prevent it from collapsing, because the wooden floorboards were “completely rotten”, says Margot Heller, the gallery’s director.
Heller says that the new space will “take the South London Gallery into a new era”. The ground and first floors will be used to mount shows, and two shows a year will be spread throughout the entire four-storey building. There is also space for an archive and a studio for the gallery’s artist-in-residency programme.