The new Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art gallery building and adjoining Public Square are part of the redevelopment of the town centre in Middlesbrough, a community of approximately 150,000 inhabitants in the North East of England, serving as commercial and cultural centre for an area of about 650,000 people. With the aim to create economic success and cultural diversity Middlesbroughs redevelopment focused on the attraction of leisure and retail facilities, the redesign of major streets and, as a key project, the redevelopment of Middlesbroughs central Victoria Square, including the new art gallery. The project was won in 2002 by (EEA) Erick van Egeraat associated architects through an international competition, the public square has been designed in conjunction with Dutch landscape architects West 8.
The winning design presents an ideas and architectural approach to the master plan of a central site, including the location of the gallery and its relationship to the proposed square and other existing civic buildings. The project is defined by a single public open space, clearly identifiable with distinct areas, that encourages active use, strengthens connections with the surrounding streets and supports pedestrian movement throughout the town centre. The new art gallery is located on the south side of the Square and represents the first phase of implementing a coherent and vibrant new cultural quarter with public activities. The new gallery houses Middlesbroughs collection of modern arts and crafts as
well as temporary exhibitions on approximately 4.000 m2 of gallery space,
furthermore a café, restaurant, shop and education spaces.
The building itself is separated into two distinct building parts reflecting the public and support functions inside, with the exhibition space overlapping the two and the public foyer linking them together. The form and materials of the building express this duality of the concept, while respecting the scale and material of the surrounding buildings.
The public spaces directly face the square with the education and entertainment areas taking advantage of the views. This public side of the building, including main entrance to foyer, café and shop is spacious, open and inviting and enables easy access to the gallery.
The creation of a layered, transparent façade enhances the openness and the visual connections between the square, the town and the gallerys interior thus optimising the relationship between MIMA and the revitalised public and cultural quarter of Middlesbrough.