Ramboll Director of Arts and Culture, Anton Sawicki, is currently involved in two of the most prestigious arts and culture projects in Europe: the extension of the Tate Modern gallery in London, and the new National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo. These are just the most recent projects in a long career that has included award-winning galleries, museums, and theatres in the UK and Europe.
Designed for international standards
"Arts and culture buildings are often conceived as artworks in themselves," Anton Sawicki explains.
"They’re unusual or complex forms that already pose certain challenges to the structural design. Then, there are all the specific constraints you face. Loading capacity is an important factor, since some artworks may weigh several tonnes. Heating and ventilation systems have to be perfectly adapted to house what may be very sensitive historic collections. The use of natural light can be a powerful feature of the design, and also has a role to play in achieving energy efficiency."
In Anton’s view, this is precisely where the engineer’s contribution really comes into its own. The engineer’s knowledge of materials, his understanding of how structural and services elements work together to define building performance, and his familiarity with phasing and programme issues, means he often plays a crucial role in reconciling the architect’s vision with the constraints of a challenging brief. Over the past ten years, the need to deliver on wider strategic objectives has led to tighter, more challenging design briefs. Energy efficiency, sustainability, ultra-flexible exhibition and performance spaces, and of course ever-tightening budgets: these are just some of the design drivers that are defining the current generation of arts and culture buildings.
Reaching the best solutions
By getting involved during the conceptual stage, Anton Sawicki and his team are able to help realise the design in the best possible way:
"All the time, we look at which potential challenges may arise from various design decisions, and present various options for how to avoid them. In this process, communication is key, as the architect and customer need to understand what the effects will be. Here, 3D technology is a great tool to illustrate what it will look like. During the Tate II project, we have used 3D extensively, and at a very early stage, we had a 3D model of the basic design to show the complex geometry of the building," he explains.
Created in the year 2000 from a disused power station in the heart of London, Tate Modern displays the national collection of international modern art. The success of the gallery has now led to an impressive extension project. Anton Sawicki has been involved in the extension of Tate Modern in London for several years:
"When involved in cultural projects, it is important that you see it through all the way. In these buildings, a lot of details are important to the end user experience, so every single detail has to turn out as it was planned."