Ondaatje Wing, National Portrait Gallery

Dixon Jones, London, 2000


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  • A full-height daylit space has become the heart of the transformed National Portrait Gallery    
  • The new wing abuts and opens up the nineteenth century building at every level    
  • The restaurant perched on top of the new wing offers spectacular views across a roofscape of domes, towers and rooflights    
  • In a pre-emptive strike in 1999, Dixon.Jones gave the npg a bookshop and an attractive basement-level café     
  • Panelled in slatted timber,  the basement level auditorium is sober, and even grave.  The row of columns supports the escalator    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Second floor plan    
  • Third floor plan    
  • Section    
  • Section    
  • Working detail    
  • Working detail    

Reconfiguration and expansion of an existing four-storey Victorian art gallery, to include multi-storey exhibition space and café

The Ondaatje Wing creates a new heart to the National Portrait Gallery, increasing the public and exhibition space by 50 per cent and significantly upgrading visitor facilities.

The wing incorporates a dramatic central hall, lecture theatre, state-of-the-art IT gallery and two new exhibition spaces, called the Balcony Gallery and the Tudor Gallery. The Balcony Gallery is suspended on cables from the Tudor Gallery and flanked by a walkway that overlooks the central hall. Within the wing, a series of four metre-high partitions, which are staggered to allow reflected natural light into the exhibition space, partially enclose the gallery.

There is a 100-seat rooftop restaurant designed as an implied loggia, with a sloping lead roof and fully-glazed southern facade to maximise the breathtaking views over Whitehall and Trafalgar Square.


  • Completed: May 2000
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Address: St Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE, United Kingdom

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