Home Fashion The past lives of Europe’s the majority of appealing art areas

The past lives of Europe’s the majority of appealing art areas


The past lives of Europe’s many appealing art spaces

From resurrected churches to roller skating rinks, subterranean reservoirs to power plants, we review the past lives, and reincarnations of Europe’s the majority of remarkable contemporary art exhibit spaces defying the white cube. Check out the unknown history of art.


Previous life: A brewery
Location: Brussels, Belgium

The exterior of the Wielemans-Ceuppens brewery in 1930. Photography: Willy Kessels

In 1862, following efforts at trading in baked items and cloth, the Belgian Wielemans-Ceuppens dynasty ventured into beer. Following fast growth and a quest for ingenious techniques, the household bought a brand brand-new flagship developing hall, one that would become the largest in Europe and a landmark on the Brussels urban landscape. Created in 1930 by designer Adrien Blomme and applauded as a ‘ideal example of modernism’ the striking structure (likewise referred to as the Blomme building or the Wielemans tower) still teems with traces of its industrial past.

During 2005-2008 renovations, some of the brewery’s initial operational features were restored, such as copper barrels and tiling in the developing hall. In 2007, the structure handled new life as a centre for contemporary art. In addition to 19,000 sq ft of exhibit area, the structure hosts an auditorium, studio workshops for artists-in-residence, and a café and bookshop in the titanic developing hall. Amongst those who have provided operate in this laboratory of modern art are Wolfgang Tillmans, Yayoi Kusama, Franz Erhard Walther, Mark Leckey, Luc Tuymans and Rita McBride.

Above: Inside the brewing hall-turned-café of Wiels in 2018. Photography: Alexandra Bertels. Below: Setup view of Franz Erhard Walther’s exhibit at Wiels in 2014. Photography: Sven Laurent

TJ Boulting

Past life: an ironmongery and sanitaryware maker
Place: Fitzrovia, London

Outside view of TJ Boulting gallery, which was formerly house to furnishing ironmongers TJ Boulting & & Sons Originally established in 1808, providing ironmongers TJ Boulting & & Sons were responsible for the manufacture of variety and stoves alongside gas, electrical, sanitary and warm water engineering. Sited on a corner in the heart of Fitzrovia, its Arts and Crafts building is still engraved with the initial Art Nouveau lettering in gold and green mosaic tiles. The business, which moved into the building in 1903, has something of an interesting claim to fame, said to have actually fitted the first flushing bathroom in Windsor Castle, prior to the more well-known Thomas Crapper made his mark.

In 2011, inspired by the building’s roots, Gigi Giannuzzi and present director Hannah Watson established TJ Boulting as the new gallery area of publishing home, Trolley which specialises in photography, photojournalism and modern art titles. Over the last decade, the gallery has sculpted a credibility for vibrant shows of emerging and mid-career artists. Previous exhibits include Dominic Hawgood’s shape-shifting ‘Erupting The Self v3.1’ and ‘Birth’, curated with Charlotte Jansen. When lockdown constraints are raised, TJ Boulting will reopen ‘Enmeshed Worlds’ by HelenA Pritchard, on view from 12-17 April 2021.

Above: Installation view of Dominic Hawgood ‘Casting Out The Self v3’, 2020. Below: Setup view of HelenA Pritchard, ‘Enmeshed Worlds’, which will reopen as soon as lockdown restrictions lift on 12 April


La Patinoire Royale – Galerie Valérie Bach

Past life: a roller skating rink
Place: Brussels, Belgium

Archival architectural illustration of the facade of the Royal Skating rink in Brussels, dated 1877. From the archives of the Town Preparation Department, Municipal Archives of Saint-Gilles

This is a gallery with a huge claim and numerous previous lives. Constructed in 1877 as Royal Skating, it ended up being one of the world’s very first roller skating rinks, in a time when appeal for the recreational sport was at an all-time high. In 1900, roller skate wheels developed into cars and truck wheels as the space changed into a Bugatti garage, and later a weapons depot during World War 2. Constructed in an elaborate Neoclassical design, the structure’s facade is punctuated by unique circular and arched windows, flooding the interior area with a sea of natural light. In 2015, gallerist Valérie Bach acquired the area, getting John-Paul Hermant designers to transform it into a center for Belgian and global Modern and contemporary art with a focus on kinetic installations and abstraction. The 3,000 sq m internal area, masterminded by Pierre Yovanovitch, has actually given that hosted striking modern art interventions by the likes of Joana Vasconcelos, Carlos Cruz-Diez and Martine Feipel and Jean Bechameil.

Above: the grand hall of La Patinoire Royale. Photography: Tanguy Aumont, Airstudio for the Patinoire Royale. Below: Exhibit view Martine Feipel & & Jean Bechameil ‘A Hundred Hours from Home’. Thanks To Galerie Valérie Bach

KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Previous life: a margarine factory
Location: Berlin, Germany

Yard of Kunst-Werke Berlin, 1991. Photography: Uwe Walter

KW is widely understood as a cultivator of radical modern art, however one may be less familiar with the unanticipated previous life of its building. The original Baroque structure was developed for residential purposes in 1794 and remains one of the oldest structures in Berlin’s Auguststraße. Its transverse wing was developed in 1877 for industrial usage, most recently, as a margarine factory called Berolina Margarinefabrik throughout the German Democratic Republic era.

In 1991, Klaus Biesenbach, Alexandra Binswanger, Philipp von Doering, Clemens Homburger, and Alfonso Rutigliano saw the capacity in this collapsing factory as a platform for provocative avant-garde art. Its worldwide track record has actually because been sealed by landmark thematic shows consisting of ‘Berliner Chronik’ (1994 ); ‘One on One’ (2012/13); ‘Fire and Forget. On Violence (2015 )’; and ‘The Making from Husbands: Christina Ramberg in Discussion’ (2019/2020) and significant solo shows by Kader Attia, Ceal Floyer, Carsten Höller, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Petrit Halilaj and Adam Pendleton. To hail the institution’s 30th anniversary this year, KW will host a series of brand-new commissions and exhibits by the likes of Renée Green and Susan Philipsz. Responding straight to the structure’s history, artist Sissel Tolaas will produce a limited-edition soap made up of particles collected at KW.

Petrit Halilaj, The places I’m looking for, my dear, are utopian places, they are uninteresting and I do not know how to make them genuine; installation view of the sixth Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Berlin 2010; Courtesy the artist; Photography: Uwe Walter

Lynn Hershman Leeson, First Individual Plural, the Electronic Diaries of Lynn Hershman, 1984-96 (in 4 parts); setup view in the exhibition First Individual Plural at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin 2018; Courtesy the artist; Photography: Frank Sperling

Pirelli HangarBicocca

Previous life: an engine factory
Area: Milan, Italy

Left: The structure of Breda Elettromeccanica business’s brand-new shed, 1963-64. Right: inside the shed, taken in the 2nd half of the 60s. Courtesy Fondazione Isec, Archivio storico Breda

When it concerns scale, there’s nowhere rather on par with the large enormity of Pirelli HangarBicocca. The website when occupied one of the most growing industrial centres in Milan, spearheaded by engineer Ernesto Breda in 1886. This vast complex of factories, which included tyre manufacturing huge Pirelli, produced railway carriages, electric and steam locomotives and was later on adjusted to manufacture aeroplanes and projectiles during the First World War effort. One factory was HangarBicocca, a gigantic 15,000 sq m area comprising three primary areas.

In 2004, after a years of disregard, Pirelli transformed the space into a non-profit art structure staging significant annual solo programs and permanent installations. Lots of indications of the structure’s industrial past are still undamaged. The 30-metre-high, 9500 m sq Navate, built in between 1963 and 1965 still has noticeable traces of the rails used to evaluate locomotives, and now hosts Anselm Kiefer’s significant permanent setup The Seven Heavenly Palaces, commissioned for the structure’s opening. There’s no doubt that an area like this takes a particular mix of courage, aspiration and vision to fill. Amongst those who have surmounted the job to jaw-dropping impact are Philippe Parreno, Ragnar Kjartansson, Kishio Suga, Marina Abramović, Joan Jonas and Cerith Wyn Evans.

Outside view of the Pirelli HangarBicocca art structure today. Courtesy Pirelli HangarBicocca. Photography: Lorenzo Palmeri

Cerith Wyn Evans ‘… the Illuminating Gas’, exhibit view at Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan. Photography: Agostino Osio


Past life: a subterranean tank
Area: Copenhagen, Denmark

1889 illustration of prepare for the Cisternerne underground reservoir in Copenhagen. Image credit: Slots-og Kulturstyrelsen

If it weren’t for the first-rate art setups, the incredible depths of Copenhagen’s Cisternerne may be similar to a cathedral crypt or The Chamber of Secrets. The ex-subterranean reservoir was built from 1856-1859 to improve the water system to the Danish capital and ended up being defunct in 1933. It was deserted for decades before starting an unexpected new life in 2001 as The Museum of Modern Glass Art. In 2013, it was acquired by the Frederiksberg Museums and has because played host to ambitious annual art installations with globally-renowned modern artists. As exhibition backgrounds go, there is no place quite like the obstacles of the Cisternerne. Among those who have actually stepped up to the task to excessive impact are Jeppe Hein, Eva Koch, Ingvar Cronhammar, Superflex, architect Hiroshi Sambuichi and most just recently, Tomás Saraceno.

Above, The uninhabited Cisternerne. Photography: Johan Rosenmunthe. Listed below, Tomás Saraceno’s installation, Occasion Horizon at Cisternerne. Photography: Torben Eskerod


Past life: a coal power station
Place: Luckenwalde, Germany

E-Werk Luckenwalde, c. 1920. Courtesy of E-Werk and Paul Damm

The shift from power station to art gallery is a relatively well-trodden course, and though E-Werk might not have the show-stopping scale of Tate Modern or Shanghai’s Power Station of Art, unlike the previously mentioned institutions, it still produces power. The building was built in 1913 as a coal power plant and shuttered its doors right after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Thirty years later, the space was reanimated by Artist Pablo Wendel and his not-for-profit arts organisation, Performance Electrics, as checked out in Wallpaper’s October 2019 issue (W * 247). E-Werk uses domestic programmes, workshops, studio space for artists, exhibitions, and its own, trademarked power source: Kunststrom (art electricity) utilized through wood chip-burning machines still suitable with the structure’s pre-existing infrastructure – an electrical blend of art and power.

Above, E-Werk Luckenwalde Turbine Hall, c. 1920. Thanks to E-Werk and Paul Damm. Below, E-Werk’s Turbine Hall today, which plays host to a roster of efficiency artists. Photography: Stefan Korte, for the October 2019 issue of Wallpaper *


Past (and present) life: a commercial gravel pit
Area: Lleida, Spain

The industrial landscape surrounding Planta, an ingenious contemporary art job in rural Catalonia. © Fundació Sorigué, 2020

An industrial complex on the northern edge of rural Catalonia is possibly the last location one may anticipate to stumble throughout an Anselm Kiefer, or a Costs Viola. But existing side-by-side with the daily buzz of trucks and cranes shuttling around mounds of gravel, are areas devoted to site-specific contemporary art. Planta is an innovative job on the crossway of art, science, architecture, and business. It’s handled by Fundació Sorigué, the foundation of the Sorigué Organization Group, who, aside from an enthusiasm for contemporary art, focus on product science research study and sourcing sustainable building products. Sites include an enormous garage which plays host to Spanish carver Juan Muñoz’s Double Bind (formerly shown in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall) and an ex-air raid shelter (built throughout the Spanish Civil War) which houses a video setup by Bill Viola. Others who have shown in this lunar-like industrial landscape include Tony Cragg, William Kentridge, and a task with Chiharu Shiota remains in the pipeline.

Above, Setup view of Double Bind, by Juan Muñoz at Planta. Listed below, Inside the Anselm Kiefer Structure at Planta. © Fundació Sorigué, 2020

König Galerie– St. Agnes Church

Past life: a brutalist church
Place: Berlin, Germany

Outside view of König Galerie’s St Agnes Church. Photography: Roman März

König Galerie has a performance history for locating unusual gallery spaces. Their London space was, after all, an underground car park up until 2017. But 6 years prior to then, they took on the difficulty of turning the heritage-listed St. Agnes– a former Catholic church and developed in 1967 by German designer and post-war modernist Werner Düttmann– from worn out brute into a striking stage for international contemporary art. Sited in the Kreuzberg area of Berlin, St. Agnes comprises a previous chapel and nave which were artfully transformed from church to gallery by architect Arno Brandlhuber. Amongst those who have actually made the most of the gallery’s light, lofty and utterly monumental proportions are Claudia Comte, Elmgreen & & Dragset, Camille Henrot and Katharina Grosse.

Above, Architectural design of St. Agnes Church by architectural studio Arno Brandlhuber who renovated the space in 2015. Thanks To König Galerie Berlin and the Brandlhuber+ Group. Listed below, Installation view of Jose Dávila ‘The Minute of Suspension’ in the Nave of St Agnes Church at König Gallery, Berlin. Photography: Roman Maerz


Previous life: an alcohol factory
Area: Ribeira Grande, São Miguel, Portugal

Exterior view of one of Arquipélago’s buildings prior to restorations

In 2015, a 122-year old commercial volcanic stone and lumber structure in the town of Ribeira Grande on the Portuguese island São Miguel Island went from alcohol factory, to ‘culture factory’. The structure was reborn as the Arquipélago Centre for Contemporary Arts, an interdisciplinary creative hub, at the hands of Portuguese designers Menos é Mais Arquitectos Associados and João Mendes Ribeiro. Located in the middle of the Atlantic, The Azores are called a website between Europe and the Americas. The centre takes its name from the 9 islands that form the island chain, and has a mission to ‘observe, promote, distribute’ through a programme of visual art exhibits, workshops, efficiencies, shows and artist residencies. Arquipélago is a harmonious, and positive blend of location, eras and innovative disciplines.

Top, In 2015, the former alcohol and tobacco factory was transformed in a art and cultural center by Portuguese designers Menos é Mais Arquitectos Associados and João Mendes Ribeiro. Bottom, Setup view of the 2018 group show, ‘Sonic Geometry’, at Arquipélago imagining work by Jonathan Saldanha

Published at Tue, 06 Apr 2021 17:00:00 +0000