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The Gallery | Tate Modern extension opens to public

Ramboll has worked with architect Herzog & de Meuron to build the Tate Modern’s new extension. New Civil Engineer spoke to the engineer behind the Switch House. 

Pharoah’s architects must be spinning in their crypts. All the toil in the Middle Kingdom could never match the Tate Modern’s £260M Switch House development, a 10-storey twisted pyramid that adds 70% extra gallery display space to the museum.

For eight years Ramboll has been involved in the project, with contributions ranging from geotechnics to bridgework to structural work.  

“You name an aspect of structural engineering, it’s in this building. It captures most of what a structural engineer will want to do in one place,” Ramboll director Martin Burden told New Civil Engineer

The building’s geometry was developed to meet the site’s constraints, explained Burden. Protected views to St Paul’s, the need to preserve views to the Thames and the site’s size led to an irregular ground plan.

“To make it even more complex the floor levels are different,” added Burden. This was overcome with an iterative process where columns were moved along the facade, and liaising with Herzog to find the ‘sweet spot’ for the structure.

A 26m high bridge on level four links the Boiler House, the original Tate Modern building, to the Switch House. 

“It’s one heck of a bridge,” said Burden, who believes that it is the highest pedestrian walkway in London. 

Ramboll launched the bridge from the Switch House with a novel method that used roof trusses and jacks to install it on the Boiler House side. 

“It brings you from the old into the new,” added Burden.

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