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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.

(Photo:Maris Mezulis.)

The new design cut through sections of

existing waffle slab.

(Photo:Maris Mezulis.)