Among the high number of significant architectural gems located throughout West London, the former Fulham Town Hall is particularly striking. Located on Fulham Road, adjacent Fulham Broadway Station, the redundant town hall is a captivating structure and one that draws the attention of visitor and local alike.
A snapshot of Fulham Town Hall’s history
Its robust presence was designed by George Edwards in 1888-1890 and includes a handsomely ornamented exterior with Italianate influences and a twentieth century Baroque Extension designed by Francis Wood in 1904-1905. Given its special architectural and historic interest, the former Town Hall was as such designated Grade II* on 31st of July 1981.
Given the changes to Fulham’s social, economic and environmental circumstances over time, it became redundant as a town hall from 1965 and, whilst still intermittently used for offices and events, has remained vacant for the past decade. Now closed behind iron rail gates and sealed by large oak doors, it is no longer accessible to the wider public. That is, until recently.
Art has recently given the building a new purpose, but with the interiors left in tact (degradation included)
From May 20th – for the first time in over a decade – Fulham Town Hall’s doors reopened to welcome visitors back into its interior space via a new art exhibit, Art in the Age of Now. This free exhibition gave visitors the freedom to explore and discover not only hundreds of art works but also the ‘seen and unseen’ spaces of Fulham Town Hall in what is an immersive and unique experience.
Here, the extravagance of the exterior can be seen to have been reciprocated throughout the interior, with tall ceilings, elegant stairwells, beautiful tiling, large halls and a wealth of lavish materials, colours and textures. That being said, it obviously remained in an state of deterioration as a direct result of its long vacancy.
The art works made effective use of all available spaces including rooms, corridors, halls, ceilings and floors, and, when juxtaposed against interior’s currently poor condition, have resulted in an unexpected interconnectedness. The exhibit not only utilises the space as it is – unapologetically, given the degree of loss and erosion evident there – but has been curated in such a way that ensures existing spaces compliment and remain in dialogue with individual pieces.
Some areas of the building look like works of art in their own right as a result of the art installations
Within this context, some of the art works cause no undue harm to original fabric, with examples including projections, or free-standing installations, frames and sculptures; all of which result in negligible impacts upon the listed building. Otherwise, some exhibits have been far more intrusive in terms of original fabric, as artists have (temporarily) executed their pieces directly onto the walls, ceilings and floors, which has in turn transformed these spaces – particularly the basement – into works of art in their own right.
Both approaches result in unique interaction between audience, artworks and space, and as a result, the exhibition and associated impacts are – in the main – understood to be wholly beneficial; principally by repopulating and making effective use of space, where the interrelationship between use and preservation is widely recognised a fundament of best conservation practice.
Here, reimagining existing yet eroded and redundant spaces has reinvigorated the vacant building whilst establishing an inspiring precedence for not only the future of the Fulham Town Hall, but also the reuse of all derelict buildings alike.
See it here: https://fulhamtownhall.com/