Today (November 24), plans have been revealed for a major new creative center in the heart of Northampton’s Cultural Quarter.
The £4.7 million project, which is about to enter its second stage of works, will see the five-storey redundant heritage building in Guildhall Road transformed into a vibrant community – with a contemporary art gallery, affordable creative studios, and public spaces.
With a phased opening planned for late 2023 or early 2024, the 2,000 square meter Georgian building will become the new home for founding partner NN Contemporary Art.
Councilor Daniel Lister, cabinet member for economic development, town center regeneration and growth at West Northamptonshire Council, said: “We are delighted to be entering our second phase of work to deliver this ambitious project.
“Once open, it will offer a unique cultural hub in the heart of the Cultural Quarter, complementing the ongoing redevelopment of this part of town.
“We have all combined our vision to regenerate this central building and offer a space for artists and entrepreneurs across our county and beyond.”
NN Contemporary Art, an independent art space, will take over the lower three floors, opening a free public gallery showing the very best of international contemporary art.
With a focus on nurturing the town’s creative ecosystem, the floors will also contain 20 creative workspaces and studios, which will enable hundreds of artists and creators to grow and develop their practice in the town.
Designed to become a major creative hub for Northampton and the wider East Midlands region, the fully-accessible building will also incorporate community and event spaces – including an arts library, retail space and multimedia lab. Further tenants will be invited to lease the upper two floors.
NN Contemporary Art’s CEO and artistic director Emer Grant said: “We aim to bring a new kind of cultural institution to Northamptonshire. Our approach throughout has tried to expand the terms of collaboration, as it is integral to the design of the public realm.
“The completion will bring exciting benefits to our local community and recognizes the pivotal role of contemporary art in shaping extraordinary places.”
The team includes Northamptonshire’s PHP Architects, CS2 Chartered Surveyors, and artist and architect Sean Griffiths, who will all take inspiration from the building’s original 1920s design.
In advance of the opening, NN Contemporary Art, in partnership with West Northamptonshire Council, has launched ‘Sensing Place’ – an ambitious program of events and wider commissions that bring communities together with artists, academics and researchers to explore important conversations around cultural and artistic placemaking.
This began yesterday (November 23) and will continue until tomorrow (November 25), and a wider program will then take place around the Market Square in early 2023.
With neighbors including Royal & Derngate and the newly refurbished Museum and Art Gallery, the project builds on the wider vision to make the area a vibrant, innovative public space for culture and creativity.