Nowhere is the dazzling effect of terrazzo shown in such a vibrant, elegant form than in the overhaul of Tate Britain’s Millbank Building in London. Tate’s unassuming but challenging design intent aims to reinforce, reinstore and modernise the art museum to reflect its ongoing commitment to producing a cultural experience appropriate to a world-class gallery.
Caruso St John, architects, did a superb job of retaining classic charm, aligning paint colours, terrazzo flooring and joinery with the original material palette, all the while instilling an invigorating, modern twist. Works included adding a magnificent terrazzo spiral staircase, descending to new underground classrooms. And ten new exhibition spaces and a complete overhaul of the oldest parts of Tate Britain’s Millbank Building, creating new education and events rooms in spaces previously inaccessible to the public.
While it’s true, any spiral staircase can make a significant mark, the one at Tate Britain is simply spectacular. It spirals down from the centre of the domed rotunda, where a new monochrome terrazzo floor cleverly reproduces the patterned marble mosaics of the original flooring. Using a Bianco Carrara terrazzo along with a custom made terrazzo, its black and white scalloped pattern is repeated in the stair’s marble balustrade to dazzling effect.
And, thanks to some clever deign work, the revamped circular balcony around the rotunda, which had been closed since the 1920s, now includes an inviting first-floor cafe and bar for Tate members. Also on this floor is the re-opened Grand Saloon, used for conferences and events, which features the original Victorian ceiling thoughtfully restored adorned with clustered pendant lights, creating a light filled space overlooking the Thames.
At the bottom of the beautiful terrazzo stairs is The Archive Gallery, along with the Djanogly Café and the restored Rex Whistler restaurant, as well as four new classrooms.
"The new Tate Britain opens up the Millbank entrance to reassert and enhance the original grandeur and logic of the galleries," says Penelope Curtis, former Tate Britain director. And we wholeheartedly agree that Caruso St John has certainly achieved this through a magnificent and thoughtful restoration, creating a welcoming and architecturally elegant art gallery to visit.
Robertson’s Building Products now supplies the architectural terrazzo used within this project. To use this durable and elegant material in your next building project, or to get more information, call us on +613 8199 9599, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website robertsons.net.au/terrazzo.
Architect: Caruso St John
Product: Bianco Carrara Terrazzo and Custom Terrazzo
Builder: Lend Lease