Tate Modern
Bankside
London SE1 9TG
United Kingdom

Herzog and de Meuron 2001

Tate Modern is a powerful and dramatic combination of old and new architecture providing 10,000m2 of gallery space. The original Bankside power station was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1947. It was closed down in 1981 and stood unused on the side of the Thames until 1996 when the Tate trustees saw it as a potential site for a new art gallery to house the Tate collection of international modern art from 1900 to the present day.

Out of the six finalists Herzog and de Meuron were the only architects to suggest leaving the original power station building largely intact. Their strategy was based on accepting the power and energy of the original building whilst finding new ways to enhance and utilize these qualities - a conceptual rather than design-based approach. All of the original brickwork, windows and chimney have been renovated and retained. The original turbine hall has become the new entrance to the gallery as well as providing a vast exhibition space; visitors enter at one end and descend down a long gradual ramp before being carried upwards on escalators to the auditorium, shop, café and three floors of galleries above. Light-filled boxes attached to the sides of this huge space coincide with openings where visitors can look down on the turbine hall from the galleries above.

Internally Herzog and de Meuron have emphasized the industrial character of the building through their use of polished concrete, untreated wooden floors and plain light paintwork on the walls contrasting with black girders. Externally their major edition is the Swiss light, a two-story high glass roof beam that runs the whole length of the top of the building. This is the outward signal of the building's change in function providing excellent lighting to the top galleries. It also houses a café that has magnificent views across to St Paul's Cathedral on the other side of the river. At night this horizontal roof beam provides a distinctive addition to the London skyline.

John Perrin 2002


How to visit

You can reach Tate Modern by underground - Southwark (Jubilee Line) and Blackfriars (District and Circle Lines) are the closest underground stations, both less than ten minutes walk - or, better, on foot: Foster and Partners' Millennium Bridge provides a new pedestrian route across the river to Tate Modern - approximate walking time from St Paul's Cathedral is ten minutes.

For opening hours and other visitor information call +44 20 7887 8000 (or for recorded information +44 20 7887 8008), or visit www.tate.org.uk/modern/information.htm

Tate Modern has excellent facilities for lunch, dinner or a snack and coffee.

Admission to the gallery is free, but special exhibitions within the gallery charge an admission price.

 

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