Competition design for an extension to the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, 1982
Designer: R. Seifert & Partners
© RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections
In the early 1980s the National Gallery asked architects to transform its car park, a remnant of wartime bombing, into a new landmark structure facing Trafalgar Square. With an opportunity to design a building of national significance, the competition for new visitor services and exhibition space resulted in hundreds of submissions.
In these studies R. Seifert & Partners chose not to simply render the building isolated in white space, as early Modernists did, but to place the scheme within the urban context of the square. Their plan for the museum's new wing would have replicated some of the columns and symmetry of William Wilkins's original National Gallery building. R. Seifert & Partners' design, attempting to balance a desire for Modernism while maintaining the Classicism of the square, was much less bold than the winning scheme by Ahrends, Burton and Koralek.