Tate Modern: 10th Anniversary

29 04 2010

The groundbreaking renovation of the Bankside Power Station into the home of Britain’s ‘Modern Art Scene’, the Tate Modern, will celebrate it’s 10th birthday this May.

The international design competition was launched in July 1994, and was won by Herzog & De Meuron, the innovative Swiss architects. Often heralded as their pièce de résistance, the Tate Modern is a beautiful, deft and fitting ‘re-thinking’ of the building. Coming in just shy of £150 million for the conversion meant all eyes were watching to see what HdM would do – they did not disappoint. The newly revamped ‘Tate Modern’ was completed in January 2000, and opened to the public in, you guessed it, May of that year.

Much of the internal structure of the building remained intact, including the vast ‘Turbine Hall’ which has housed many fantastic installations over the past ten years (Olafur Eliasson’s ‘The Weather Project’ being one of my favourites: http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/eliasson/about.htm). Also, an electrical sub-station that took up the southern third of the building remained under the ownership of EDF Energy (the French energy giants) until 2006 when they agreed to release half of this holding to the museum.

The biggest change to the structure is the addition of the two-story glass extension on one half of the roof (this houses all the essential parts of any public building – the obligatory cafe / restaurant etc. Externally then, the building may appear to be relatively unchanged. For me though, it is the subtle adaptation of what was once considered an eyesore on the Thames, into something that Britons have come to love and cherish. It is sympathetic to it’s industrial roots, and yet steers away from them in all the right places.

As Ada Louise Huxtable (juror for the Pritzker Prize the year HdM won) says: “They [HdM] refine the traditions of modernism to elemental simplicity, while transforming materials and surfaces through the exploration of new treatments and techniques.”

To celebrate the anniversary, the Tate is holding a series of events free to the public between 12th – 16th May. This includes an exhibition entitled: ‘No Soul For Sale’ – a three-day festival mixing cutting edge arts events, performances, music and film.

Check out the Tate website for more information: http://www.tate.org.uk/