Switch House by Herzog and de Meuron, has opened this week with a storm of media interest. This new building revives the Tate Modern’s position in London as the destination for modern art. Starting from the outside, the chunky brick structure adds to the skyline, and stands up to its neighbouring buildings, showing its intention from the outset. The sense of materiality outside the building is exceptional, people in the queue were touching and tapping the perforated brick lattices, and immediately invites closer inspection. Generous spaces within continue this feeling, with bleached rough wood floors and bare polished concrete walls deployed to make a space that feels both soothing and exciting. Light floods the transit spaces, the swooping stairways and halls, while in the galleries light is evenly dispersed.
I loved the Louise Bourgeois room, which created an intimate portrait of the artist and also showed her power with pieces like the giant spider bronzes. Between Object and Architecture holds great pieces from Tony Cragg to Rachel Whiteread, and really invites investigation. The Tanks have been kept rough and industrial, and are ideal hosts to the active sculpture performances. A new bridge connects the original building, and allows for spectacular views into the Turbine Hall – temporary home to Ai Wei Wei’s driftwood tree.
Along with the usual coffee stops and restaurant, there are ample spaces throughout Switch House to enjoy the sensational views, and of course the 10th floor viewing gallery tops it all. The Tate Modern is a place to spend time to explore, discover and reflect – and it is somewhere to revisit.
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