Tate Modern, Proposed Redevelopment
In 2018 we were given the theoretical task of designing a multi-functional seating, informational, and wayfinding solution for the Tate Modern gallery on Southbank.
While not a live project, we still had to approach it as if it was, meaning technical drawings and final renders had to be created as if there was a final hand-off at the end of the submission. Not only that, but the entire project had to be completed in only four working weeks, excluding the initial site visit that took place in early December of that year and the subsequent holiday break.
This was a project with efficiency at its core; not only efficiency of time, but efficiency of design as well. An experiment in time management and quick, effective, accurate decision making.
Originally the Bankside Power Station, the industrial structure was converted between 1995 and 2000 into its current state by Herzog & de Meuron after its final decommission in 1981. The building is now a contemporary art gallery, the second most visited in the UK, and the 6th most popular in the world.
Its most famous characteristic is its industrial architecture and large-scale interiors, having been designed to accommodate massive machinery as opposed to just people. This most notably extends to the giant turbine hall that makes up a large portion of the centre of the building.
Year of design:
Tate, Tate Modern
The view of the site when approaching from the Riverside (Northern) entrance. Note the blue/green tint on the glass, as well as the light entering into the compressed space from the Turbine Hall.
The view facing the site from the Cafe (Western) entrance. Due to both plains being visible, this could be considered the key angle.
For our design proposal we had been presented with a specific site within the Tate Modern from which to develop.
The site can be found just off the main northertly entrance, overlooking the turbine hall. It is the floor to ceiling glass panes that surround the building’s escalator system on the first storey, continuing a glasswork theme also found in the adjascent shopping area.
Next to the space lies the turbine hall, from which on this storey (complete with a bridge that sit above the hall) acts as a means to view from and wayfind. Between the compressed site and extremely open hall are regularly placed mild steel columns with exposed rivets. These are leftovers from the building’s original function, and create a consistent aesthetic shared throughout the entire building when presented alongside the poured reinforced concrete and slightly green-tinted frame-less glass. These were all starting points that heavily inspired the look of the proposal moving forward, and can be seen clearly in the finished work’s design.
The site sits next to one of the most significant movement corridors in the entire building, and thanks to being on the first floor and the amount of light in the area it also regularly functions as a waiting space and overlook, used for wayfinding through the space and looking for other visitors. This function is critical given the nature of the brief and what it asks of the scheme to functionally perform.
This visual montage was created as a means to understand the forms and textures present in the space.
It highlights such things as the importance and visual significance of structural supports, the layering of different height ceilings, and the way in which different plains are merged and interact with one another, creating pinch points and seemingly abstract geometric shapes. Additonally, note the way the light and shadow reflects the hard, angular physical forms present in the space. Shadow comes in as long angles, commanding within the space they fall over. They can contain a Blade Runner-esque level of atmosphere and ambience. As to can the moments where light, rather than heavily structured through a space, explodes through, being diffused and causing wispy silhouettes of anything that stands in front of it.
Texture is important, it is the medium through which our eyes can take over the role of the senses; how something would feel to touch, even taste perhaps.
The next phase was to start experimenting and playing around with various design ideas that echo these core ideas of internal seating, accessibility, multi-functionality, and a clear line of sight, ideally both in and out.
With the dimensions we had been provided, I realised that it was possible for the site to contain four reasonably-sized individual ‘pods’ of sorts, all of which could be accessed through either side, including the moment of convergence where the plains create the corner, where if the pods were placed directly against the corner, would share the same entrance/exit space. Moving further with the individual pods concept, henceforth known as just ‘booths’, I realised the designs could appear to float off the window if they all sat against the glass on a backing.
Access from the side would mean the booths could have an opaque front that contained a touch-screen or conventional LED screen for playing videos, and each would fill the user with a sense of privacy and intimacy thanks to the enclosure, despite being visible from either sides (presumably because if the user is facing forward then the sides are on the outsides of their peripheral vision).
Final Design Development-
Developing from previously shown experimentation, the final design strips back to what is entirely necessary for the scheme to function as effortlessly as possible.
The main body of the stuctures is a singular strip of aluminium that forms a backboard against the glass, turns into a curved canopy as it rises, and forms the touch screen mount and privacy screen as it coils back down.
The entire structure would be attached to the glass panes via a planar bolt system, meaning minimal parts can be involved to acheieve the sturdiest, safest results.
The booths could be implemented anywhere in the building where deemed necessary as no part of the design is unique to the site.