The Dairy Arts Centre is a not-for-profit venue founded by the art collectors Nicolai Frahm and Frank Cohen.
The Dairy Arts Centre is located in central London at the end of a cobbled lane next to a very old park with which it shares a southernmost boundary wall.
The project was completed in one year, from first enquiry to the inaugural show by John Armleder.
Formerly a dairy depot, the assemblage of existing buildings and yards already promised a curatorial sequence of differentiated spaces for exhibition and event. A language for the dairy depot's appropriation developed as a distillation of the essence of each of the spaces through removal, relocation of the reusable, and intervention of the new only where there was a need for it. A family of fluorescent lighting details was developed to camouflage into the different ceiling and wall contexts. 7 rooms with 4 architectural typologies: top lit sheds with A-frame trusses, concrete flat roof with downstand beams, brick rooms, and a steel-framed dry-lined room.
A material palette for new elements was kept deliberately colorless, using white, mirrored stainless steel, glass, and translucent multiwall polycarbonate, art-case plywood. An assembly of clear, solid, reflective, and translucent surfaces was choreographed at the threshold to partially reveal the internal views of exhibits flattened with reflected views of the visitor, creating a background of "seeing being seen."
The 4 threshold openings, a 13-foot sliding door half translucent half clear, a 4-foot pivot door half translucent half clear, a mirrored automatic sliding door, and an existing black steel sliding panel with a small door can be choreographed to facilitate art loading or event flow or gallery window or regular day or night security. The entrance sequence is illuminated by a seamless light ceiling that spans the width of the entire industrial shed.