Author : Alex Fotherby

University : University of Greenwich, United Kingdom

Status : MArch, 2016

Advisors : Max Dewdney and David Hemmingway

Title : Turner Contemporary Institute of Colour

The project is a critique of current display methods for the paintings of JMW Turner, and proposes a new form of gallery where individual paintings are physically recreated through artifice and illusion. Rather than simply looking at a Turner, visitors to the Institute will physically inhabit his paintings, saturating themselves in the varied and ethereal conditions presented in his works.

The myth of Turner strapping himself to the mast of a ship during a heavy storm in the English Channel is echoed within the design and location of the Institute, with the 110m high cliffs of the West Sussex coast providing the ephemeral backdrop. This myth also inspires the components used to recreate the particular atmospheres. Turner’s idea of the ‘elemental vortex’ – the clash of storm, sea and smoke – forms the combined output for these elemental components.

When moving through the building, only a few moments and atmospheres are created and glimpsed at. Users are never presented with the whole. It is only once the visitor reaches the base of the cavern that the entire effect is revealed and they are fully immersed in Turner’s colours and atmospheres, resulting in an unfamiliar and original method for experiencing his art.


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Alex Fotherby_ Try to imagine moving through the various spaces whilst all of these Turner atmospheres are being created around you. The sense of disorientation and joy was an important driver for me throughout the project and I hope that viewers can pick up on this too.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
AF_ Here's one you won't have heard before: sport and travel 🙂

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
AF_ If you're unsure about a decision or design idea, just go ahead and do it anyway. It's better to make mistakes whilst attempting something new than to always work within your comfort zone.

S//A : Describe your dream project
AF_ No budget. Rural and precariously-positioned site and a crazy (in the good way) client.