Modern British & Irish Art

Durham Wharf Studios: The Redevelopment by Turner Prize-winning architects Assemble

By Robin Cawdron-Stewart

W hen Julian Trevelyan and his first wife, the potter Ursual Darwin, stumbled across Durham Wharf in the early 1930s they found the ideal location in which to set up a home and studio space, somewhere to foster ideas and ideals. It is this space that the proceeds from the sale of A Painter’s Paradise: Julian Trevelyan & Mary Fedden at Durham Wharf supports.

THE DOOR TO THE RIVERSIDE STUDIO AT DURHAM WHARF.

The £1,000,000 redevelopment of Durham Wharf as a place for artists to retreat, reside and develop their talents has been placed in the hands of leading architects Assemble. A collective of 15 whose work addresses the relationship between people and the built environment, Assemble started working together in 2009, and developed their first project, the Cineroleum, in 2010. Working in their free-time and around other jobs, they built the Cineroleum from borrowed, recycled and industrial materials, with around 2000 friends, volunteers and passers-by. They now work across the UK for both independent community groups and public bodies, and on both self-initiated and commissioned projects.

DURHAM WHARF ON THE DAY OF ONE OF MARY AND JULIAN’S BOAT RACE PARTIES. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE DURHAM WHARF ARCHIVE.

In 2014 they won the Turner Prize for their project in Liverpool’s Granby Four Streets, part of an on-going collaboration with a group of residents who took control of their neighbourhood following years of managed decline and failed regeneration schemes.

THE REDEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR DURHAM WHARF, BY TURNER PRIZE-WINNING ARCHITECTS ASSEMBLE.

At Durham Wharf Assemble are currently developing a design in which they aim to accentuate the particular personality of this humble yet historic building. Refurbishing the main studio with its river views and reconstructing the working studios will preserve the remarkable feel and character of the space, whilst providing a practical and affordable studio area with the option for three private studios or bedrooms, a library, archive room and restored garden room (known as the ‘Philosopher’s House’).

MARY FEDDEN ON THE WALL AT DURHAM WHARF. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE DURHAM WHARF ARCHIVE.

The project is one that seeks to acknowledge and build upon the site’s qualities and quirks, extending and renewing living and working facilities to build on the Wharf’s provenance as a place in which art has been produced, exhibited and exchanged. The building and its activities are being conceived with physical and operational sustainability in mind, which will enable Durham Wharf to extend its established tradition as a place that is both domestic and public.

A Painter’s Paradise: Julian Trevelyan & Mary Fedden at Durham Wharf is in London on 23 November.

More from Sotheby's

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

Close