Tate Gallery Extension & Refurbishment

St Ives

Tate Gallery Extension & Refurbishment

The £12m refurbishment and extension to the Tate gallery in St Ives is an ambitious project due to be complete in 2017. The extension is built into the side a steep rock face and required a separate enabling works package and innovative civil engineering just to prepare the site for construction. The site was underlain by Greenstone, one of the hardest known rocks in the UK, and required breaking out with expanding foams, hydraulic splitters and diamond drilling. The extension houses a new column free 30m x 17m gallery. The roof is constructed with exposed 1.5m deep and 300mm wide concrete beams and supports a roof garden and 6 concrete roof light chambers.  As the concrete is exposed in the gallery the H40 reinforcing bars in the beams were galvanised to reduce rust staining and the concrete mix and formwork carefully developed. In addition the extension provides a link to the existing building, office, plant room and storage areas.

The refurbishment works involve the in-filling of an internal courtyard with a new floor to create an additional function room with a unique tower structure supporting a semi-conical roof constructed from gluam timber beam. The work was in the centre of the existing gallery requiring careful consideration of access and sequencing.

The project has been exceptionally well received, winning numerous architectural awards, the ICE Civil Engineering Project of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the biggest prize in Architecture, the Stirling Prize in 2018.

*This project was undertaken whilst at a previous practice with significant involvement from a Director at SD Structures.


We enjoyed working with Mike on the Tate St Ives Project because of his appreciation of good design and attention to detail. Since setting up SD Structures, we asked Mike and his team to help us with a residential warehouse conversion project. The structure was thoughtfully developed; utilising cantilevered steels, hangers and transfers structures, without comprise to the architecture.

Jamie Fobert - Jamie Fobert Architects