The newest feature of London’s famous skyline is The Switch House, a 10 story addition to the Tate Modern museum. It officially opened in June 2016 after seven years in the making and whilst it is not the prettiest of sights, it signifies an exciting new phase for the Tate and there are new views from level 10.
I’ve always felt the Tate Modern museum had a very looming brutalist appearance. The original building is a steel framed, rectangular brick monster that was the former Bankside Powerstation, which closed in the 1980s. Running centrally is a 6 story chimney aka The Boiler House atop a mammoth ground floor space, which is the Turbine Hall. From the outside it looks very industrial cum warehouse, with high ceilings and plenty of space and innovation inside.
The new building more than doubles that space for innovation and the external design is equally heavy set. The brief to create it was undeniably a tough one, I imagine it was something along the lines of: erect a new addition to the Tate Modern that is in keeping with the old yet incorporates a modern twist. Nonetheless, I have a hard time liking it. I loved the original industry vibe but this building looks more like a faculty house and the latticed brickwork does not match well. When I see it I immediately think of Sydney UTS University. In fairness, I have only seen the building by daylight, and some of the photos of it in the evening look far more flattering.
The inside is a different story and there are still the high ceilings, plain grey walls, and blank warehouse/canvas look, feel and smell. It increase the museum’s capacity by 60% and will enable increased diversity in its art collections, with an intent to focus more on international perspectives.
Ai Weiwei’s Tree (2010) has found a new home at the Tate Modern, having previously been at The Royal Academy of Art near Green Park for most of 2015. Ai Weiwei gathered the wood from across the mountainous southern region of his native China to construct the sculpture.
The coolest thing are the level 10 views. The top of The Switch House is a free viewing platform for anyone to see the most spectacular sights of London. You can see my photos here.
To celebrate the opening of the new Tate Modern building, Southwark tube station displayed a special roundel between 17-19 June designed by Michael Craig-Martin who says: “It is particularly nice to have the opportunity to play a little with such a classic motif as the tube roundel. I hope that it catches the eye and the imagination of people arriving to see the extraordinary new Tate Modern.”
I love the colourful roundel and it’s a shame they took it down. Who else thinks it should become a permanent staple of Southwark station?