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Tate Transformation Underway

Transforming Tate Modern. Exterior view from the south, © Hayes Davidson and Herzog & de Meuron.

On January 6, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, launched the start of preparatory building works on the new Tate Modern development. The event took place in the oil tanks of the former power station from which the new building will rise. Two of the oil tanks will be retained as raw spaces for art and performance. Also underway is the installation of 185 piles that will strengthen the existing Turbine Hall foundations. In addition, the museum is performing demolition work to clear the area directly south of Tate Modern, making way for the new development.

The building’s new facade echoes that of the original power station, but uses brick in a radical new way by creating a perforated brick lattice through which the building will glow in the evening.

The new Tate Modern building also sets benchmarks for both sustainability and energy use by museums and galleries in the UK. By exploiting waste heat emitted from the power station’s relocated transformers and employing passive design principles whenever practical, the scheme will use 54% less energy, and emit 44% less carbon than building regulations demand.

The project also addresses some of the strains on the current building. The gallery was originally designed for 2 million visitors. With current visitor numbers reaching up to 5 million, there is serious overcrowding. Additional space is also needed so works can be brought out of storage and shown on a more permanent basis. The new building will provide over 5000sqm of new gallery space and over 1300sqm of new space for learning programs.

The plans for the new development of Tate Modern by leading international architects Herzog & de Meuron were granted planning permission by Southwark Council in March 2009. Completion of the transformation is scheduled for 2012, in time for the Olympic Games.

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