- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 19 Sep 2017
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.
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.
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.
In April 2017, residents of the RSHP-designed Neo Bankside began a legal bid trying to force the shutting down of part of the viewing platform. Five residents lodged papers at the High Court seeking an injunction. They claim that the Tate Modern is in breach of their human rights due to 'near constant surveillance' from visitors on the platform who are able to look directly into their apartments.
The papers claim that, 'the defendants’ use of … part of its viewing platform is unreasonably interfering with the claimants’ enjoyment of their flats, so as to be a nuisance', and say that the visual intrusion '...does not provide a safe or satisfactory home environment for young children.'
The claim highlights the fact that visitors often use binoculars and take photographs and footage of their homes, before posting them on social media.
Residents have called for the terrace to be cordoned off, or for a screen to be built at their expense along the viewing platform. However, the Tate Modern, while putting up notices asking visitors to 'respect the privacy' of their neighbours, were not willing to restrict access to the platform.
The original Tate Modern extension was permitted in December 2008 and included a rooftop terrace in its plans. A revised proposal including a brick façade and the viewing gallery was permitted in May 2009 as work began on the adjacent Neo Bankside. It is understood that no objections were raised to the proposed terrace at the time.
For more information, see Tate Modern.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Changes have been made to BREEAM's ecology content which promotes protection, impact mitigation and ecological enhancement.
What should be evaluated to assess building performance?
BIM standards BS 1192:2007+A2:2016 and PAS 1192-2:2013 have been superceded.
What is biophilic design and how can it increase wellbeing?
80 experts come up with the top 7 mistakes the industry makes with BREEAM.
Compliance cannot be verified by inspection on delivery.
Some electric cars have batteries that give a range of over 350 miles.
Assembling, curating, caring for, and designing the future.
A sensitive approach to renovating a building of historic stature.
UK energy policy uncertainty as Welsh project put on hold
What collaborative working achieves and how it can be put in place.
BSRIA publishes the 2019 edition of its small but concise annual databook.