Last edited 16 Dec 2016

Switch House, Tate Modern


In June 2016, Designing Buildings Wiki attended a preview of the new extension of the Tate Modern, located on the south bank of London’s Thames. The Switch House opened 16 years after the former Bankside Power Station was reopened to become the world’s most popular museum of modern and contemporary art.

Designed by internationally-renowned architects Herzog & de Meuron, the extension adds 60% more space to be used for live art, installations and film. It has been touted as Britain’s most important new cultural building for almost two decades.


The cylindrical underground Tanks, each of which measures more than 30 m across, serve as the foundations of the 10-storey Switch House building, which is a sharp-angled pyramid-like structure with the power station’s brickwork reinterpreted in a perforated lattice cladding of 336,000 bricks.


Window openings in the façade progress from thin and vertical to long and horizontal as their height increases, allowing light to filter in during the day and ot glow outwards during the evening.

The interior is formed almost entirely using exposed concrete, with sweeping staircases and unusual angles that provide an impression of spaciousness without appearing cavernous.




A public terrace on the 10th floor offers 360-degree panoramic views of London, and a new bridge spanning the Turbine Hall joins the existing galleries in the Boiler House with the new galleries in the Switch House.


Sustainability is at the heart of the design, with a high thermal mass, natural ventilation, solar panels and newly-created green spaces.

At the launch, the new Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, described the Tate as “a modern museum for the 21st century”. He said that for too long culture had been a ‘nice to have’ and that it would now be at the core of his administration. He touched on plans to introduce Creative Enterprise Zones where creative artists can live and work affordably instead of being priced out of the city.


Perhaps hinting at the upcoming EU referendum, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, said the museum and its global collection served as a statement about a “confident Britain that looks out on the world”.


For more information, see Tate Modern.

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