• [Axonometric section]

    [Axonometric section]

  • [Construction section]

    [Construction section]

  • [Construction details]

    [Construction details]

  • [Sketches]


  • North-West South-East Section

    North-West South-East Section

  • [Elevation]


  • [Design Sketch]

    [Design Sketch]

  • Podium Deck

    Podium Deck

  • Cross section / Snitt - [Presentation drawing]

    Cross section / Snitt - [Presentation drawing]

    Foster Associates

Marking the museum’s fortieth anniversary, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts presented from March to September 2018 the exhibition ‘Superstructures: The New Architecture 1960-90,’ curated by Jane Pavitt and Abraham Thomas. This archive collection features a selection of the many materials from Team 4, Foster Associates, and Foster + Partners which were featured in the exhibition alongside other leading architects and architects.  

Exhibition- ‘Superstructures:

The New Architecture 1960-


Archive Selection


· Fred Olsen Amenity Centre, London, England, 1968-1970
· Fred Olsen Passenger Terminal, London, England, 1969-1970

 · Fred Olsen Amenity Building, Millwall Docks,       London, United Kingdom, 1968-1970


 · Hammersmith Centre, London, UK, 1977-1979 

  Drawings   Models 

· Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, United   Kingdom, 1974-1979

  Drawings   Models 






























































Cutaway section Fred Olsen Amenity Building
Floor plan configuration, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
View from mezzanine, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art 
Letter from Norman Foster to Buckminster Fuller

‘Superstructures’ centres on the story of architecture’s fascination with technology in the post-war decades. The exhibition explores the postwar era’s drive to develop new architectural forms utilising lightweight structures, industrialised building techniques and innovative engineering solutions. In the process, architects and engineers created a new typology of building or ‘superstructure’ which radically reimagined the spaces of culture, work, travel, and living in ways that have proved to be globally influential.


While these projects are often grouped together under the notion of ‘high-tech’ architecture, this label is regarded unfavourably by some as misleading in its suggestion of a singular style. ‘Superstructures’ demonstrated how this new modern architecture emerged from a generation of predominantly British architects who challenged convention; immersed in the utopian and experimental ideas of late modernism, they shared a commonality of ideas, forms and materials. In the process of contextualizing these ground-breaking projects, the exhibition celebrates the seminal influence of figures such as Buckminster Fuller, Jean Prouvé, Charles and Ray Eames, and Cedric Price. During this movement and its cross-disciplinary exchanges, technical innovations from automotive, nautical, aerospace, and information technology were adapted to create bold new materials and innovative industrial processes for architecture.


The Sainsbury Centre itself, designed by Foster Associates between 1974 and 1979, exemplifies the technological spirit of the Superstructures movement. The exhibition venue consists of a lightweight, expandable steel structure covered in a ‘skin’ of glass with interchangeable panels that allow for the building to adapt with changes in its internal use over time. These features soon made the Sainsbury Centre a paradigm of a new era of museum design and construction. The building’s ideas of structural simplicity and expression and its use of industrial materials were soon applied in a myriad of project types and sizes including factories, offices, public transport terminals and private homes.   


As a whole, the ‘Superstructures’ exhibition compiles a compelling body of work which encapsulates one of most the distinctive and enduring architectural languages of the late twentieth century. The Norman Foster Foundation lent many drawings to the exhibition including those of the Sainsbury Centre of Art itself, the Fred Olsen Amenity Building, the Climatroffice, Hammersmith Centre, Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Headquarters, and many others.