Early designs for Turner Contemporary expansion revealed

How the new entrance and changes to the front could look Image Avanti Architects

Early plans for the £6million expansion of Turner Contemporary in Margate could mean a reduction to the entrance steps, removal of the rampway and a new entrance from Fort Road.

Initial designs were shared at an event last night (September 19) hosted by gallery director Victoria Pomery, Trustees’ chairman Clive Stephens, Kent county councillor Mike Hill and Fiona Lamb from Avanti Architects.

The Turner Contemporary Phase 2 scheme will be a combination of new build, refurbishment and reconfiguration at the gallery.

Possible changes to the rampway if it remains

The aim is to expand the café area, relocate the shop into a new, single story addition to the gallery and free up exhibition space.

Designs also include additional toilets, a lift instead of the ramp and plans for new build additions to the original David Chipperfield site.

If funding is secured the project will begin in 2020 after the gallery has hosted the prestigious Turner Prize in 2019.

Turner Contemporary bosses say the expansion is needed due to the high volume of visitors to the gallery.

Early ideas for building additions

Councillor Hill said: “It was designed with the expectation of 150,000 visitors a year. Since it opened in 2011 the fabulous work by Victoria Pomery and her team has resulted in visitors way in excess of what we expected. There were 500,000 visitors in the first year and since then around 400,000 a year,

“The facilities are not big enough for customers and there has been wear and tear over the years. We propose to bring the building up to its original high standard and to give us a bit more space and give the trust the opportunity to raise more income through the gallery.”

Ms Pomery, who revealed the gallery is expecting some 250,000 visitors to attend for the Turner Prize event, said the main aims are “accessibility, sustainability, income generation and visitor experience.”

Avanti Architects have been working on the proposals for around 8 weeks. Talking of initial plans Fiona Lamb said: “We need to expand the café into the entrance foyer and relocate the shop in a single storey addition at the site. We need to move the shop functions out of the Sunley Gallery and leave that space clear for exhibitions.

“Our brief from Turner Contemporary was that they wanted everyone coming to the entrance in the same way.”

Possible lift

Designs show a lift replacing the long rampway, reduced steps up to the gallery, seating and landscaping outside and a new entrance from Fort Hill with the crossing moved up to that point.

New addition building would take place on the Fort Hill side of the gallery with the design complimenting but not exactly replicating the current property.

At the presentation Margate ward councillor Iris Johnston said the proposals were not ‘brave enough’ adding: “An awful lot more needs to be thought about. It needs to be for the long term and not damage the integrity of the building.”

Questions were also raised over what materials would be used and whetherthe new build would affect access coming from Cliftonville to the ‘top’ of the site.

The scheme would be funded by £3 million from Arts Council England (ACE) and around £2.6 million  from KCC with the remainder made up from other sources.

Turner Contemporary director Victoria Pomery and, from Avanti, Fiona Lamb and Amir Ramezani

Any changes to the building will be subject to a successful funding application to Arts Council England. A Stage 2 application will be submitted by December 14.

Separate plans for a 100 room ‘hostel’ next to Tuner Contemporary were unveiled by architect David Chipperfield last month.

How it could look Source: David Chipperfield Architects

The proposal for the Turner Rooms, which is a different project to the Avanti scheme, is aimed at securing the financial future for the gallery, saying it will: “provide a residential component to the gallery’s facilities, accommodating visitors and group events, such as conferences, that are related to the Turner Contemporary programme.

“The hostel contains 100 simple, functional sea-facing rooms across four levels, which are designed to be accessible in price and flexible in arrangement. Meeting rooms, social spaces, and a cafe/brasserie will be located on the lower levels of the building, and open out onto the surrounding terrace.”

Works at Margate harbour Photo Cliff Tamplin

Margate RNLI branch is already looking for a new base. The current site will become untenable as Turner Contemporary carries out its expansion plans.

The branch will be served notice when the lease expires in April 2021 for the current boathouse which is based behind Turner Contemporary. The boathouse is also too small to house the new Shannon all-weather lifeboat, meaning a larger venue is needed.Exploratory works took place in Margate harbour last month.

The  core sample works were part of investigations being carried out as the RNLI branch looks for a new base.

It is not yet clear how the proposals will affect the Margate Yacht Club boat parking facilities.


  1. You need to concentrate on taking care of our museums such as the TudoR House and Old Town Hall first. I read a story about they are in dire need of work yet you are talking of throwing money at the shed that is the Turner Centre?

  2. We used to have beautiful sea views from Fort Hill which have been partially blocked by the Turner Centre. The Turner Centre has benefited Margate but any new builds should not be so tall that they further block the view.

  3. Sounds encouraging news but would it not be better to ‘cover’ the open area in front of the cafe/restaurant but with screens at the side as the wind can be uncomfortable at times especially in the winter months?
    I take the point that both the Old Town Hall and Tudor House could be upgraded as most people leaving TC wander into the Old Town. Both these are’gems’ in What Margate can offer.
    Always thought the shop could be better arranged so hopefully that will be a consideration in your planning

  4. please come a build on the old ramsgate pleasurama ground first or work on finding someone that will. its been a eyesore now for over 10 years and its becoming a laughing joke with the regular visitors who find it shocking i personally have found it an embarrassment for Ramsgate beach front.

  5. It is beautiful as it is, and enough surely? Why do they need to change the ramp? The children’s neglected playground in Dane park which is full of children everyday is also full of dangerous glass, needles (yes these have been seen) and rubbish/ dog shit, condoms with overflowing bins. Its embarrassing. The other museums need repairing so money better spent there surely? Also the sail boats next to the turner are beautiful and make that walk magical. The ‘hostel’ is a monstrosity. I love you Tuner contemporary but this plans seems over indulgent.

  6. Turner could be extended slightly towards the lifeboat station with the Lifeboat being moved after their lease expires, but the car park beyond should be used for the art gallery not another huge building to destroy the appearance of the area. Money should also be spread to help other museums and public attractions from closing. They are an integral part of Margate too.

  7. I would welcome better access as I am disabled but don’t use a wheelchair. That, however, is not that helpful to me as parking close is far more important but impossible. There is already far too little parking in the area (for me anyway). Please don’t forget locals in your plans!

Comments are closed.