Turner Contemporary gallery opened in April 2011.
David Chipperfield Architects carefully designed the 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 can experience and enjoy 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.Construction“Light is therefore colour”
Light is at the essence of David Chipperfield’s design of Turner Contemporary.
“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.”
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 ground floor, café and shop all face 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
On 1 December 2009 local people and workers on the build helped us to celebrate the development of the building at a Topping Out ceremony.
The first turf for the gallery was dug on 25 November 2008 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, at our Groundbreaking ceremony. The school children displayed Turner’s famous quote The Sun is God to mark the milestone.
The £17.4m building project was kindly funded by Kent County Council
(£6.4m), Arts Council England
(£4.1m) and the South East England Development Agency
(£4m) and Turner Contemporary Art Trust (£2.9m).