Tate Modern Blavatnik Building

The Blavatnik Building, designed with acclaimed Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, is the new 11-storey extension to London's Tate Modern gallery.

An exterior photograph of the Tate Modern on a sunny day, showing the tall new brick extension building towering above the original brick power station

Key information

Architect

Herzog & De Meuron

Value

£215M

Year of Completion

2016

Sector

Challenge

Regarded by many as the most significant new cultural building in London since the British Library, the building allows 60% more of Tate Modern’s collection to be displayed.

The Tate’s brief required the building to be 'agenda setting' and to take a 'leading role in sustainability'. Our engineering approach was driven by preferential investment in the design of the building form and efficient services in order to minimise energy demand. Energy demand is 50% lower than a typical gallery.

This project is part of an enduring relationship between Tate and Max Fordham, having previously worked together on Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate St Ives and Tate Liverpool.

Innovative environmental engineering

With sustainability a key focus for this project, we worked with Tate to challenge the strict levels of environmental control traditionally associated with the display of art, improving its sustainability credentials. This allowed us to adopt a passive approach to environmental control in most of the areas that weren't for the display of art. 

One of the more intriguing features of the project was the opportunity to utilise waste heat generated by the UK Power Network (UKPN) on-site transformers. As part of the upgrade, UKPN made waste heat available to Tate, rather than simply rejecting it to the atmosphere. This contributes to the year-round low energy and low carbon strategy.

An innovative use of waste heat is the application of desiccant dehumidification to control the summertime environment and relative humidity in the galleries.

50% lower energy demand than a typical gallery

60% more collection space

Converting the tanks

A challenging feature of the project was the conversion of the oil storage tanks, which originally served the former power station on the site. These are now used as flexible gallery and performance spaces. The striking 30m diameter volumes, located below ground, have been furnished with extensive building services. This has enabled the areas to be used for a wide and varied programme of arts and cultural-based events and activities.

The interior of an empty concrete building, lit with spot lights

The interior of the new gallery converted from an oil storage tank

2017 RIBA London Award