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Stormy weather puts paid to Turner prototype

A prototype structure for Snøhetta + Spence's new Turner Contemporary centre in Margate has been ripped from its foundations during a storm.

The 6m-high obelisk, which was being used to test types of steel and paint finishes, had been in the water on the beach for less than 48 hours before it broke away from its base.

The structure is now being taken back to the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast where an investigation will be held.

However, a spokeswoman for the centre insisted the recent problems would not affect the design of the project, which is still scheduled to open in 2007.

'The failure of obelisk A will have no impact on the future of the building, ' she said.

'This obelisk was merely being used to test appearance and welding and all three panels were coated in different paints.

It was one-10,000th of the actual size of the proposed centre and bears no comparison with it other than in colour. The building will be the same shape as ships all over the world which is a tried and tested structure.

'It was a condition of the planning consent that we put up a test structure on the building's intended site. But the worst storms in 30 years put paid to this. It looked really lovely, but it is no more and we now have to try again, ' she added.

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