Conrad Shawcross, installation view at Turner Contemporary. Projections of the Perfect Third 2011, Left to right: Limit of Everything (5:4) 2011; Harmonic Manifold 1 (5:4) 2011; Perfect Third (5:4 ) 1-5 2011. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
Photo © David Grandorge
Russell Crotty, installation view at Turner Contemporary. Works left to right: The Cape, 2010, courtesy Hosfelt Gallery; Walking Towards Dreamland, 2011, courtesy of the artist; Near The Lost Coast, 2007, courtesy Shoshana Wayne Gallery; Coastal Wanderings, 2010-2011, courtesy the artist.
Photo © David Grandorge
Designed by the multi award-winning David Chipperfield Architects, the gallery building will provide a 'welcoming, accessible and spacious building, both functional and efficient for a small arts organisation to run and a building that our visitors and our artists will enjoy being in.' (Victoria Pomery, Director, Turner Contemporary).
The gallery offers sensational views over the North Kent Coast, captures the dramatic light effects and offers visitors a unique opportunity to engage with and explore intriguing links between historical and contemporary art through our programme of temporary exhibitions, events and learning opportunities. Admission to the gallery is free.
We look forward to welcoming you.
Plan your visit to Turner Contemporary. Admission is free.
See the build in pictures on our Flickr page.
“…the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe” JMW Turner
Working closely with staff from Kent County Council and Turner Contemporary, David Chipperfield Architects have carefully designed the Turner Contemporary gallery to enhance visitors’ connection with Turner.
The building is situated on the exact same site as the ‘Cold Harbour’ guest house where Turner stayed on his frequent visits to Margate, recreating his original view and capturing the same unique Thanet light that inspired many of his works.
From the gallery, everyone will be able to experience and enjoy the panoramic views over the harbour that Turner himself saw.
The gallery is in close proximity to Margate’s creative quarter, the Old Town, where a buzzing artist community thrives, as well as a lively café and restaurant scene.
Light is at the essence of David Chipperfield’s design: “From the spacious naturally lit galleries to its opaque glass exterior, the building will absorb and reflect light to create a distinctive and inspirational building.” (David Chipperfield)
Positioned on a plinth to protect it from the high winds and sea, the building is made up of six identical interlocking north-facing rectangular blocks. Each block is laid out over two floors and has a pitched roof at a 20 degree angle.
The double-height entrance hall window, ground floor events space with external terrace and first floor Clore learning studio all have large north-facing windows offering unrivalled views out to sea. These capture the ever-changing light conditions, reflecting the range of colours found in Turner’s paintings.
The three first floor gallery spaces are lit by natural ‘maritime light’ from the north-facing roof and sky lights. The balcony on this floor cantilevers out over the ground floor gallery, again giving spectacular sea views.
The ‘urban window’ of the reception area, café and shop faces the town to connect the building with its surroundings.
To emphasise the changing and dramatic effect of light outside the building, a white opaque glass façade has been used. This will also resist storm and wind damage, humidity and saline intrusion.
“It had to be a building that balanced architectural merit with function and flexibility as an exhibition space, and one that ideally made use of the legendary natural light.”
Victoria Pomery, Director
We have ensured that there has been as little environmental impact during the design, construction and building of the Turner Contemporary gallery as possible. Turner Contemporary has received a 'Very Good' BREEAM rating. Read our building performance document.
Having been appointed in 2006, David Chipperfield Architects, developed an elegant, inspiring design that took full advantage of the gallery’s exceptional location on Margate’s seafront.
At a public meeting in June 2007 local residents joined the design discussions (in total over 8,000 people were engaged in the consultation process). Later, in October, David Chipperfield revealed the final design, highlighting the key elements of the build:
"We have developed the design to take maximum advantage of such a dramatic setting with its extraordinary views. Our building will look out to the sea, connect itself to the town and capture the same unique light that inspired Turner."
Mike Hill OBE, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Communities said "We are all incredibly excited about how the architects have responded to the many challenges and opportunities of this unique location to create such a stunning design."
From 2008 onwards, the Kent contractor for the build R Durtnell and Sons, have worked to create the spectacular building, on schedule.
Since December 2009, Stephen Hughes has been documenting the building project through a series of photo portraits.
Grace Ayson has recorded the construction of the gallery through drawing, to highlight the importance of the practice for Turner, who always carried a sketchbook in his pocket, recording the changing scenery as he went.
In 2010, Cultural Heritage Specialist Jason Wood wrote Contemporary history in the making - an independent essay revealing the project so far, looking forward to the gallery's opening in 2011.
Topping Out, 1 December 2009
Local people and workers on the build helped us to celebrate the development of the building at a Topping Out ceremony.
Groundbreaking ceremony, 25 November 2008
The first turf for the gallery was dug by members of the local community, pupils from Holy Trinity and St John's School in Margate, Kent County Council's Mike Hill and Paul Carter and Thanet District Council Leader, Sandy Ezekiel.
The school children displayed Turner’s famous quote The Sun is God to mark the milestone.