Tate Britain is the UK’s most renowned art gallery. Known as the National Gallery of British Art until 1932, it later became known as the Tate Gallery and in 2000 changed its name to Tate Britain. The original building in Millbank, London dates back to 1897.
The Millbank project was a multi-stage transformation that embodied the Tate’s commitment to providing a cultural experience appropriate to its stature as a world-class museum.
Maintaining the original facade of the Grade II listed building, the development aimed to improve gallery conditions, opening up circulation to the ground and upper levels. Visitor services were also being upgraded, with improvement works to the cafe and creation of new facilities for members.
Sandy Brown was appointed on behalf of the Tate to provide acoustic advice including:
- sound insulation of internal walls, floors, ceilings and doors to adequately reduce sound transmission
- impact sound transmission through floors
- mitigation of reverberation and noise buildup in spaces
- control of noise through the building envelope to acceptable levels within spaces
- building services noise and vibration control.
Special acoustic features
An important consideration for the gallery was the control of reverberation and noise build up. The large rooms and hard finishes that are typical in gallery spaces have long reverberation times, meaning that different noise sources – such as people talking and footsteps on hard surfaces – tend to blend into one another and make speech more difficult to understand. The gallery is a popular venue for educational visits and school trips and this problem would be particularly noticeable with the noise build up associated with large groups of children or at busy times.
To find a solution for the gallery, we built a number of 3D acoustic models which allowed us to predict the effects of a variety of treatments and illustrate to the design team how to achieve the most cost effective result.
The models indicated that whilst adding sound absorbent treatments to the entire vaulted ceilings could achieve a reduction on approximately 5dB, further treatments to walls would not significantly increase this reduction and therefore costs could be minimised.