frontage, linking the National Theatre and
Queen Elizabeth Hall complex to the west
and the Tate Modern and Globe Theatre
to the east. From early conception, BDG
imagined the Sea Containers building as
a missing link in this procession of large,
urban, character buildings along the Thames.
Design queues were taken from the brutal,
shuttered concrete of Denys Lasdun’s
National Theatre, the Hayward Gallery and
the smooth concrete landscapes of the Tate
Modern Turbine Hall and the Tate Tanks.
Overlooking the Thames, the lower floors
of the Sea Containers building are defined
internally by the muscular quality of the
existing waffle concrete structural system.
Expressing this inherent character was seen
as essential to the client and design team, who
were keen to let the existing building ‘guide’
the team to the most appropriate design
Exposed services and new power-
trowelled wearing screeds in the most heavily
trafficked areas blur the boundaries between
typical office, public and cultural buildings,
creating spaces with a hybrid feel where staff
and visitors are encouraged to touch down
and work in comfortable, private settings – as
you might commonly find in a theatre foyer
or art gallery.
Working closely with Arup – the original
structural engineer for the building – ‘soft
spots’were identified in the existing structure
to create a dramatic opening and coloured
glass staircase link through the waffle slab.
Central stack –workspace
The central stack consists of six floors of
low, horizontal plates. These are divided
conceptually into three towers with vertical
links between them. The east and west
Helical in-situ concrete staircase.
The new design cut through sections of
existing waffle slab.