The Brunel Museum Grand Entrance Hall

Tate Harmer, London, 2016


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Internal view of the entrance hall 

Paul Raftery (website)     Download Original

  • Internal view of the entrance hall    
  • Internal view of the entrance hall in use    
  • A more detailed view of the staircase    
  • A view at the bottom of the new staircase    
  • A view looking down on the new staircase    
  • A Detailed view at the interface between the historic wall and the new staircase    
  • A view from the top landing of the staircase    
  • A view of the top landing during a performance    
  • A view of the entrance hall during a performance    
  • The new entrance to the shaft from the outside    
  • The central cruciform beam for the staircase being craned in through the new doorway    
  • The entrance staircase under construction    
  • The new entrance staircase being assembled on site    
  • The original model of the entrance hall and staircase    
  • Site plan    
  • Floor plan    
  • Staircase assembly plan    
  • Staircase axonometric    
  • Entrance hall axonometric section    
  • Staircase use diagrams    
  • Historic section through The Thames Tunnel    
  • Historic drawing of the entrance shaft    
  • A drawing of the completed Thames Tunnel    
  • Historic section through the sinking shaft    
  • A historic section through The Thames Tunnel under construction    
  • Staircase service route drawing    
  • Staircase details    
  • Stair section detail    
  • Entrance threshold details    

The conversion of Brunel's Thames Tunnel Sinking Shaft into a new exhibition and performance space

The Grand Entrance Hall to the historic Thames Tunnel is a newly accessible underground space and a key exhibit for the Brunel Museum.

The space is the Grade II*-listed circular underground Sinking Shaft, which was used to construct the tunnel, and for twenty years was the pedestrian entrance until the tunnel was converted for train use in 1869.

A new freestanding staircase now opens this space up again as a public exhibit and performance venue. This project is phase 1 of a wider masterplan for the museum, developed in collaboration with Grimshaw Architects.

Our intervention was as much about revealing the beauty of the existing space as it was about providing public access, and we were careful to use the minimum means possible in our architectural proposal.

The new staircase and platform are conceived as a ‘ship in a bottle’ structure; pre-fabricated and all inserted through a new door opening.

The installation contains all the services and requirements necessary to create a working public performance space, whilst retaining the powerful raw atmosphere of Brunel’s first structure.


  • Begun: Nov 2015
  • Completed: Mar 2016
  • Floor area: 143m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £185,000
  • Funding: AIM/Biffa Award, National Heritage Landmarks Partnership and the London Borough of Southwark
  • Tender date: Jun 2015
  • Procurement: Traditional
  • Address: Brunel Museum, Railway Avenue, Rotherhithe, London, SE16 4LF, United Kingdom

Professional Team