Engineers Max Fordham celebrate after Newport Street Gallery wins Stirling Prize

Engineers Max Fordham are celebrating after the Newport Street Gallery, a project they worked on, won this year’s Stirling Prize for architecture.

Architects Caruso St. John won the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize for their work on Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery. Max Fordham worked with the architects and Damien Hirst, one of Britain’s most famous artists, to deliver the award-winning building.

Located in London's Vauxhall, the gallery was designed for Hirst's private collection, including works by Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin and Pablo Picasso.

The Stirling Prize judges said the building was “highly accomplished and expertly detailed” in their summation of the win.

Max Fordham designed the environmental engineering for the project, and performed the acoustics and lighting consultancy as well. The project included the refurbishment of three, listed, former theatre scenery workshops and the addition of extensive gallery space. 

Colin Darlington, senior partner at Max Fordham in charge of the project, said: “We are delighted by the news that Newport Street Gallery has been awarded the Stirling Prize. This was an incredible - and challenging - project to work on and it is great to see that hard work recognised by RIBA.”

The building’s distinctive saw-tooth roof echoes the industrial heritage of the area and is positioned to allow indirect sunlight into the galleries, allowing each valuable piece to be illuminated without the harmful rays of the sun damaging the art work. However, the saw-toothed roof profile, as well as the building’s listed status, created some challenges as most of the mechanical and electrical plant had to be installed in a small, concentrated plantroom in the basement.

The building’s location next to an extremely busy elevated railway provided a further challenge, meaning particular attention had to be paid to the acoustic design of the building. High performance sound insulation throughout the main spaces proved an important feature to ensure the relatively isolated and quiet ambience desired for the galleries.

Andy Hutton, project engineer at Max Fordham, said: “The location and historic nature of the building provided many challenges, but I am extremely proud of what we have achieved here and the end result is as much a work of art as the incredible collection it houses.”

Services for the utilities were diverted to run below the pavement outside to ensure easy access for forklifts and trucks to transport artworks, some as heavy as 40 tonnes. Natural daylight was prioritised over artificial lighting where feasible, and low-noise air-conditioning was installed to complement the serene intimacy of the gallery.

Other key engineers from Max Fordham involved in the project included Luke Winterton, Jane Jackson and Tom Greenhill.

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