Arup brings intimacy to Tate Modern's vast extension

The opening of the Switch House extension to London’s Tate Modern has been the art event of the year. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron the 64.5-metre-high tower adds 6o percent more exhibition space to the already gargantuan gallery that is one of London’s most popular visitor attractions.

The exterior is comprised of latticed brickwork and folded surfaces, while the interior includes an assortment of over ground and under ground galleries, all sewn together with swooping concrete staircases. The structure is topped off with a roof terrace that offers panoramic views over the city. The platform has proved popular, but hopefully not as popular as the art itself.

Arup provided the lighting design for the original incarnation of the Tate Modern and were appointed to provide the design for the extension.

The public circulation areas feature mainly bare fluorescent lamps.

One of the main challenges that the lighting designers had to overcome was the development of a scheme that was integral to the architecture of the new building while maintaining a consistent feel with the existing Tate gallery. It was  very important that at the end of the process the Tate Modern and the Switch House extension were considered to be a single museum.

The scheme for the public circulation areas is comprised of mainly bare fluorescent lamps, which slot between precast concrete panels to both compliment the form and finishes of the spaces and to help draw people through the vertical building towards the galleries and the viewing platform.

LED castglass pendants have been used to add character and sparkle to the dining spaces without distracting from the spectacular views of the City of London.

The larger galleries feature homogenous ambient light and high colour rendering linear fluorescent lighting.

Of the gallery spaces Level Three is the most intimate space, which features track and spotlighting. The larger galleries on Levels Two and Four feature homogenous ambient light and high colour rendering linear fluorescent lighting. Level Two and Three also feature uniform backlit ceilings.

The amount and colour of the light has been specially selected to enhance each exhibition while meeting strict conservation standards. Half of the Level Four gallery space also features controlled levels of daylight, filtered through a system of skylights above the ceiling, with the sunlight and the daylight being diffused to create a comfortable environment in which to consider the art.

The LED spotlights used in the galleries are barely distinguishable in quality and appearance from traditional halogen lighting, while 42W Xicato Artist Series LED spotlights manufactured by DAL are used, more than halving the gallery’s energy demand.

The interior includes an assortment of over ground and under ground galleries, all sewn together with swooping concrete staircases. 

This careful specification of LED spotlights, without compromise in terms of quality and flexibility, is a significant contributor to minimising the energy use overall.

The innovative lighting design has contributed to the building achieving industry recognition for sustainability in the form of a prestigious BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.

  • The Lux Awards will be held on the 24th of November 2016 at The InterContinental London - The O2 on the Greenwich Peninsula. Tables are on sale now and you can find out more here.

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