Turner Contemporary , Margate, Kent

Creating an art gallery in an exposed maritime environment.

Safe from the sea

The design team had to consider the challenges posed by the site’s exposed coastal location, including exposure to sea spray, waves overtopping the seafront, and flooding. Their solution is a building that both turns to the sea and opens itself to the daylight and views that inspired Turner’s paintings.

Turner Contemporary’s façade openings (doors and air inlets) are safely up at roof level or set to face away from the sea front. To ensure the façade could withstand wave impact, physical wave testing was conducted to understand the forces the building would experience, and façades and security experts prescribed glazing performance criteria and façade connection forces to inform the design.

In addition to its responsiveness to the light conditions, the glass cladding material is easily cleaned and resilient in this exposed location.

Daylight in the galleries

The light that fills the galleries is free from direct sun, but varies considerably as the maritime atmosphere changes.

Daylight modelling and careful positioning of windows and skylights enables the galleries to be lit with indirect daylight and diffused sunlight without the need for complex control systems. When displaying artwork that is particularly sensitive to daylight, mesh or blackout blinds can be drawn across the skylights.

Resource efficient

The project incorporates a number of resource efficient technologies, such as a ground source heat pump that will reduce the building’s carbon footprint by 5%. Energy-efficient lighting, heating and ventilation systems are also elegantly incorporated into the architectural design.

These features have enabled the Gallery to achieve a BREEAM Bespoke ‘Very Good’ rating – a first for a new gallery in the UK.