On June 17th, 2016 Tate Modern’s new, additional building for museum officially opened and was introduced to the visitors with new look. Design belongs to notorious architectural duo, Herzog & de Meuron and it’s already clear that Tate Modern has once again confirmed its position as one of the 21st century’s iconic museums.
It should be noted that Swiss architects have worked for Tate Modern in the past. It was them who designed building’s last floor/addition, rectangular structure, which was opened in 2000. Herzog & de Meuron managed to transform abandoned Bankside Power Station into a vault of world’s contemporary art. This station is located on the banks of the River Thames and before its transformation the place was not a cultural center; new museum managed to renew and revive the area.
The power station’s original Boiler House was converted into galleries, learning studios and social spaces; and Turbine Hall was turned into a huge open space for special commissions and events. Since its opening number of works displayed in Tate Modern increases; nowadays it has one of the most rich, diverse collections and welcomes over 5 million visitors each year.
Switch House is a new 10-storey additional building for the gallery to the south of the Turbine Hall. While working on it Herzog & de Meuron reunited the team with whom they created the project of Tate Modern in 2000. The building is rooted in the cylindrical underground Tanks, each measuring over 30 meters across. By utilizing space in such way, new and different areas are freed for the museum. Above them are three floors for world-class galleries; their size changes from intimate small-scale environments to dramatic top-lit spaces. Learning areas, shop (where products related to exhibition will be sold), restaurant and bar are added to the galleries and is topped with a public terrace for museum’s visitors and other interested persons, offering 360-degree panoramic view of London. From the first and second floors of Switch House you can get to the other parts of Tate Modern, while on the fifth floor building are connected with a bridge.
Concrete structure, over 65 meters in height, is a pyramid-shaped tower; it is clad in a perforated lattice of 336000 bricks; this way designers tried to at least partially maintain building’s original façade. Such unique façade allows light to filter in the building during the day, while at night it glows out and transforms the gallery into a fantastic, shining creature. Like in the Boiler House, windows in new galleries are thin and vertical and on the upper floors are coupled with long horizontal windows; visitors can enjoy the view and details of the façade. Floors are connected with a spiral staircase, around which are many cozy spots to relax and talk about art.
Switch House increased Tate Modern’s space almost twice. Design stands out with its unique style of forms and materials, but doesn’t slip out from the whole picture and theme of Tate Modern. Art is not static and it constantly changes, develops, improves; and the museum is never far behind. So Herzog & de Meuron’s new building can be considered as a new stage of development in Tate Modern’s history.
Author: Meri Khamkhadze