Ikon Gallery

Levitt Bernstein, Birmingham, 1997


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A glass lift and stair tower fit neatly into the H-shaped plan 

Martine Hamilton Knight (website)     Download Original

  • A glass lift and stair tower fit neatly into the H-shaped plan    
  • The Ikon Gallery, formerly the Oozells Street School; a Victorian Grade II listed building    
  • The entrance into the Ikon Gallery    
  • Reception area with bookshop and stairs leading up to the galleries    
  • Glass landings and balustrading, and see-through risers to the new main stair minimise the impact of the 1990s addition to the Victorian school    
  • A ‘welcome’ in 17 languages    
  • The highly adaptable first-floor gallery, with the opening installation by Georgina Starr    
  • A juxtaposition of new and old architecture    
  • H-plan second-floor galleries. Lights are mounted high up and there are no obtrusive tracks    
  • The newly excavated basement    
  • Plain white paint partly neutralises the vigorous Gothic trusses    
  • Site plan    
  • Basement plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Second floor plan    
  • Exploded axonometric    
  • Detail sections and plans of treads risers and staircase structure    
  • Key section and plan of staircase    

Conversion of a Victorian school building into a contemporary art venue situated in the heart of Birmingham's Brindley Place redevelopment area

The brief had a number of requirements: a location close to other activities, accessible to passers-by, good gallery spaces for showing contemporary works, a café, public toilets, a shop, workshops, storage, facilities for touring exhibitions, an education room, and full access for people with disabilities.

The Oozells Street School, a Victorian Grade II listed building, is H-shaped in plan and three storeys high. The large linked classrooms on the first and second floors have been converted to provide 450m2 of gallery space. The galleries are restrained and simple conversions of the original rooms.

The first floor has environmental controls to conservation standard in tall flat-ceilinged rooms with the option of natural side lighting. The top floor has lofty spaces with a variety of exposed trusses and the option of natural top and side lighting.

The ground floor is devoted to the entrance, a shop, a café and support spaces both for the public and the works of art. A new basement provides further storage, workshop and plant areas.

New extensions add vertical circulation routes to the original building where the contrast in materials and detailing highlights the aesthetic qualities of both new and old architecture.


  • Begun: May 1996
  • Completed: Dec 1997
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £4.7M
  • Procurement: JCT 80
  • Address: 1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham, B1 2HS, United Kingdom

Professional Team