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creases are column free, emphasising the continuity of

the surface whilst also providing a 360° view of the River

Thames, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard and the City

beyond. In total 336,000 bricks were installed between

August 2014 and February 2016, using a new system

that could be installed in ‘all-weather’.

Like the original Tate Modern, the new building pre-

sents a striking combination of the raw and the refined

industrial spaces and 21st century architecture.

The façade uses brick to match the surface of the

existing structure, while creating something radically

new – a perforated brick lattice through which the inte-

rior lights glow in the evening.

Windows and the terrace appear as cuts in the brick


The complex irregular form is visually harmonised

with the original building through its unique and striking

brickwork, and provides an iconic addition to London’s


Appointed by the Trustees of Tate, Ramboll played

an intrinsic role in helping to realise Tate’s vision for the

extension, which is built on top of three disused oil tanks

that have been adapted as exhibition spaces.

The building rises to 64.5 metres above ground in 11

levels, its height responding to the iconic chimney of

Giles Gilbert Scott’s power station.

If the Turbine Hall was the defining emblem of Tate

Modern’s first stage, the vast oil tanks, at the base of

the building, will become as closely associated with the

new building.

These raw industrial spaces retain their rough-edged

atmosphere to become an unforgettable performance

and exhibition venue.

Unique Construction Methods

The building’s distinctive and complex geometry impact-

ed many aspects of the building’s construction, from the

brick arrangement, to the windows and precast façade

panels, the internal structure and the scaffold. Inside

every floor offers something unique.

Four feature staircases are wide and deep, creating

a place where people can circulate and connect, enhanc-

ing their overall experience and forming part of the

overall visitor circulation strategy. Every facet of this

building has been planned and engineered with incred-

ible precision.

The lower floors of the new building and the partially

rebuilt Switch House floors boast incredibly large rooms

with spans of up to 18 m. Achieving these clear spans,

whilst being able to accommodate the essential loading

conditions for the gallery, was very important for Tate

Modern’s displays.

“It is a real privilege to have played such a

pivotal role on the Tate Modern extension. 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


said Martin Burden, Director


The construction methods are

as unique as the structure

Contractors World International

Oil Tanks at Tate Modern

Photo Marcus Leith and Andrew Dunkley

© Tate Photography

Contractors World International Vol 7 No 4