TATE MODERN GALLERY, THE SWITCH HOUSE |LONDON|- HERZOG & DE MEURON

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After 8 years the architectural development of the new Tate Modern Gallery extension in London – The Switch House – is over. The museum’s wing inaugurated on June the 17th and it has already got all the attention it deserves from Londoners and tourists.

It was the 1995 when the Swiss architects, quite unknown at that period, Jacques Herzog and Pierre De Meuron won the competition to turn the Bankside Power Station into a museum of modern and contemporary art. A project that brought them fame and the Pritzker Prize few years later.

I’ve never seen Southwark area before the Shard and the Tate Modern but who has lived in the southern riverside of London before the realisation of these landmarks told me it was an absolute desolated neighbourhood exclusively dedicated to industrial purposes. That’s exactly what architecture should aim for: revitalising difficult, sequestered parts of a city and make them livable, injecting new life into a fringe and neglected area.

The new Tate Modern rises behind the original converted power station looking like a solid urban mountain crafted from concrete and bricks with crooked lines that actually give it dynamism and a sense of motion, specially at night when the long strip windows glow in the dark. On the other hand this fortress-like feeling is broken by the porosity achieved through the perforated knitting-like disposition of the bricks that creates a mesmerizing facade effect.

So glad the architects chose bricks over steel and glass halfway through the project. I’m sure you don’t want to know about the previous idea. (comments are opened!)

At the 4th floor an indoor bridge connects the existing galleries – the Boiler House – to new extension now called the Switch House and only this weekend, looking down the Turbine Hall from this new perspective, I could see and understand the magnificence of this space conceived as an industrial, now turned into a cultural, cathedral with metallic columns and trabeations. It may appear as a simple, meaningless space but to me it has all the strength of the Parthenon.

Beautiful is the top floor that opens up to a glorious view of London: from Saint Paul’s Cathedral to Renzo Piano’s Shard the observation deck gives the chance to truly enjoy the city from above without gazing down having the impression of looking to a miniature map, as it happens from The Shard or The Sky Garden.

 

Enjoy the view from the roof-terrace now!



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All photos and words by Nancy Da Campo
PINT IT_Tate Modern Gallery in London opened its extension the Switch House