Looking out from within the new Tate Modern extension, it is difficult to comprehend the level of complexity involved in designing the windows. With five different inclinations, the building corners and creases resulted in 60 different glass heights across its nearly 1,700 glass panes, spanning up to 29 rows of windows and glazed screens scattered over the whole envelope.
Precision was absolutely critical, with all glass in the corners and creases designed in 3D and cut to shape. Even non-exposed bracketry and window support systems were designed using the structure’s overall 3D model. This resulted in a high level of accuracy from the start of the design, enabling consideration of complex building movements and load paths, plus special precision during fabrication and assembly within the concrete exterior face.
Approximately 35% of the windows are unscreened, with the remaining 65% behind the perforated brick façade, creating transparency, which allows light to flood in. The intriguing building angles and comprising of different patterns within the elevations are reflected in a variation of unique inner spaces at each floor level, which want to be discovered and appreciated. At night, when lit, the building looks stunning, with light glowing through the brickwork unveiling the windows behind the perforations.
High performance extra clear, special UV and anti-fade specification glazing has been installed to help protect Tate Modern’s art displays from UV and, together with the brickwork brise soleil, minimise solar gain.
The design of the window system also negates the need for a building maintenance unit, with the majority of the windows accessible for cleaning from the interior. Natural ventilation provides a key aspect in the functionality of the building enabling users and visitors to open windows outwards at any inclination. Windows located behind the veil are opening inwards and operated via an intelligent sensoric BMS that allows incremental opening positions of the motorised chain providing an optimised ventilation of each room at any weathering conditions. Special Aluminium profiles and a unique semi-unitisation for the windows provide outstanding weather tightness.
The Switch House galleries boast large vertical glass slots and a large roof light, allowing natural daylight to flood into the vast spaces without compromising the delicate art displays.
At level 10 the building is crowned by an exceptional venue space. At the double-height top floor, glazed curtain walling is set back from the façade to form a roof terrace, with breathtaking 360° view of The Thames, St Paul’s, The Shard and the City beyond.