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ABK National Gallery models

Architectural model for Ahrends, Burton and Koralek's 1982 competition-winning National Gallery Extension design. RIBA Collections

Among a wealth of RIBA Collections material on the infamous National Gallery Extension competition are these architectural models for Ahrends, Burton and Koralek's ill-fated scheme.

Following a design competition seeking proposals to extend the National Gallery on its Trafalgar Square site, ABK's high-tech, curving glass design was announced as the winner in 1982, from a shortlist of seven. But the extension you'll find at the north-west wing of the National Gallery today is instead a restrained, postmodern reinterpretation of William Wilkins' 1830s design next door, by Venturi Scott Brown.

Architectural model for National Gallery Extension, ABK. RIBA Collections

ABK's scheme became the nexus of a wider debate about 'modern' architecture, with the Prince of Wales famously using a speech at the RIBA to describe it as a "monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend". Despite going through several iterations, the design was refused planning permission in 1984, and a fresh search undertaken in 1985 that saw Venturi Scott Brown scoop the commission.

Architectural model showing the interior of ABK's National Gallery Extension design. RIBA Collections
Model of the final revised ABK design for the National Gallery Extension. 1983, RIBA Collections
Drawing for ABK's final revised National Gallery Extension design. 1983, RIBA Collections
The Sainsbury Wing as built in 1991, designed by Venturi Scott Brown. Janet Hall / RIBA Collections
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