Tate Modern more popular than ever

01 December 2017
The iconic Tate Modern extension in London helps attract record visitor numbers to the gallery.
Tate Modern extension

Tate Modern extension

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Martin Burden. Ramboll

Martin Burden

BE CEng MIStructE MIEAust, Consulting Director
T: +44 7903 682572

By Andrew Somerville

More than 5.8 million people visited the Tate Modern gallery in London in 2016 – with more than a million visiting the award-winning extension known as the Blavatnik Building in its first month of opening.* 

The ten-storey building was opened to much acclaim in June 2016. Shaped as a truncated twisting pyramid, it is placed on top of three disused oil tanks behind the existing Tate Modern gallery Two of these tanks, located nine metres below ground level, provide new unique exhibition spaces for large-scale installations, performances and film. 

A striking characteristic of the building is its façade, made up of 336,000 bricks that were preassembled into blocks off-site and then laid over an eighteenth month period. The corners and creases are column free, emphasising the continuity of the surface while also providing a spectacular view of the River Thames, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard building and the city beyond. 

Other aspects of the building are equally complex in their construction – from the windows and precast façade panels to the internal structure and the scaffold. And inside, four broad and deep staircases provide a natural congregation point for visitors, while the lower floors feature incredibly large spaces with spans of up to 18 metres – an important prerequisite for the museums’ frequent large-scale exhibitions. 

“It is a real privilege to have played such a pivotal role on the Tate Modern extension,” says Martin Burden, Consulting Director for Buildings at Ramboll. “From threading the buildings foundations around the oil tanks to defining the structure and the building envelope, we’ve helped realise the architectural vision and played an integral role in creating an iconic building that reflects the status of Tate Modern’s brand.” 

Appointed by the Trustees of Tate, Ramboll’s role in the Tate Modern extension began in 2008 and has involved structural, geotechnical, civil, and façade engineering as well as environmental consultancy.

*Source: BBC News.


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