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Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 15:24 GMT
Arts centre is plain sailing for Margate
Margate's Turner Centre
The new arts centre will be built of naturally-aged oak
The winning architects were revealed on Wednesday in the contest to build a new 7m arts centre for Margate.

The Turner Centre, named after landscape master Joseph Mallord William Turner, will open in Kent in 2004.

It will have three galleries, one housing a collection donated to Kent County Council over the years, another dedicated to Turner's work in Kent, and a third for works on loan.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell announced that a slim sail-shaped structure conceived by Norwegian-based firm Snohetta and Spence Associates was the design winner.

The centre will give Margate an entirely new focus both as a tourist destination and as a place to work and live

Richard Nicholson, Thanet District Council

The Oslo-based firm are also architects for the spectacular new Alexandra Library in Egypt, and their design will use naturally-tarnished oak.

Charles Findlay, chairman of the Turner Centre Steering Group, said: "The announcement is an exciting event in the creation of a regional visual arts centre for the South East.

"The centre will be a key element in the regeneration of Margate Old Town and wider east Kent."

This ambitious arts plan was drawn up in 1994 and made public two years ago, and has brought together Thanet Distict Council, Kent County Council, and the Arts Council.

'Artists' quarter'

It will be funded by money from the councils, National Lottery money, and sponsorship, and will house historic and contemporary works.

Richard Nicholson, leader of Thanet District Council, said: "This is a most wonderful opportunity for the area.

"It will provide the catalyst for our plans to regenerate the old town as an artists' quarter and give Margate an entirely new focus both as a tourist destination and as a place to work and live."

London artist Turner, one of the British greats, spent many years in the seaside town.

His works inspired by Margate include "The Old Pier", an oil painting from 1804, and "Sunrise with Sea Monsters" in 1846.

The centre building, will be sited on a seafront location close to where Turner stayed over several decades.

The building is scheduled to open in 2004, and is expected to attract 159,000 visitors annually and create over 100 jobs.

Timothy Mason, formerly with the Museums and Galleries Commission, said he hoped that the building will "do for Margate what Gehry's Guggenheim has done for Bilbao".

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See also:

12 Jun 01 | Arts
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