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The Hepworth Wakefield Garden, West Yorkshire

The Hepworth Wakefield

Landscape Architect:
Tom Stuart-Smith

Geo. Houlton & Sons Ltd

Project details:
The Hepworth Wakefield opened in 2011 to house Wakefield’s art collection and provide a legacy for Barbara Hepworth in the town in which she was born. Established in 1934, the original Wakefield Art Gallery became one of the most forward-thinking galleries of its time, supporting artists including Hepworth and Henry Moore early in their careers. With gifts from local industrialists, the gallery built a collection of works by some of the most significant and avant-garde British artists of the 20th century. Supporting contemporary artists and developing the collection for future generations is something that The Hepworth Wakefield continues to be committed to today. In 2003 Wakefield Council launched an international RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) competition to find an architect to design the new art gallery for Wakefield. The competition led to the selection of David Chipperfield Architects and the £35 million development opened in 2011 to international acclaim, reaching its initial annual target of 150,000 visitors in the first five weeks.
The construction of a dedicated garden space, located on a former uninspiring flat grassed area between a 19th-century red-brick mill and the 21st-century art gallery, is the latest development at The Hepworth Wakefield. The layout echoes the striking, angular shapes of the gallery architecture while also harnessing a naturalism that reflects Barbara Hepworth’s deep connection to the landscape. Landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith also designed the unusual garden benches - large scale concrete block forms with inset timber seating pads. At over 4m long, and weighing 2200kg each, the benches were at the very limit of a single piece concrete moulding and required the set-up of a dedicated new mould specifically for the 4 benches supplied. The garden provides step-free access for use by the widest possible audience to pass through the space en route to the gallery and also to enjoy this inspiring setting.

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