The National Portrait Gallery is one of London’s most iconic attractions. Housing the most extensive collection of portraits in the world, including paintings and pictures of historically important and famous British people, it is one of the stand-out tourist destinations in the capital and generally attracts in excess of 1.5 million visitors per year.
A major programme of refurbishment is currently underway at the gallery which has led to its closure from 2020 to 2023. The project, entitled “Inspiring People”, is a comprehensive redisplay of the collection from the Tudors to present day and involves a complete refurbishment of the building, the creation of new public spaces, a more welcoming visitor entrance and public forecourt, and a new state-of-the-art Learning Centre. The East Wing will return to being gallery space, with its own new street entrance.
Panthera Group has been appointed by the London office of Gilbert Ash, the main contractor, to provide full site services for the duration of the renovation project. The first phase of this is to install an on-ground hoarding solution round the exterior of the building.
The client chose EnviroHoard™, a sustainable, closed loop hoarding system manufactured from post production uPVC that is both recycled and recyclable. This solution was chosen in place of timber hoarding following a campaign by Panthera Group to minimise the felling of mature trees for single use construction projects. As well as being the perfect choice environmentally, it is also a great choice commercially – the system is quick to install; enabling swifter securing of the boundary and can be easily relocated if required. The panels do not warp or delaminate and need no maintenance whilst in-situ.
A 60m stretch of EnviroHoard™ has been fixed to 1200kg concrete blocks and laid on protective mats to protect the pavement outside the building. Two sets of mesh vehicle gates and a set of pedestrian gates were also installed to ensure safe access and egress for contractors, suppliers and workers.
The second phase of works included a 255m² internal fit out which had a set of strict criteria due to the sensitive nature of the works being carried out inside the National Portrait Gallery. The client requested that all works be carried out with minimal to no fixings to the existing structure. Panthera Group Site Services team therefore installed a perimeter wall that was flush with the existing wall to act as a frame allowing the build to proceed without fixing to the existing walls or floor. The temporary fit out includes two meeting rooms, two offices, a changing room, a canteen with integrated office and two tea stations, plus all doors and double-glazed opening windows. All temporary power and lighting was supplied and installed by Panthera Group for the internal fit out in the gallery and the company also provided welfare accommodation for the construction teams completing the renovations.
When the National Portrait Gallery returns to life in 2023 it will be a historic building fit for a modern future.