20 years of working alongside the British home of modern art
In April 1994, Tate announced it would be opening the Tate Modern in a discontinued power station on the South Bank. At the time, the South Bank was still relatively unknown, an underused part of London filled with factories and wharfs from the area’s industrial history. Opening in 2000, the gallery has seen its audience numbers surpass expectations, helping open up contemporary art to a wider audience.
Stanhope has been involved throughout the evolution of the site - from helping to secure their home on the South Bank in the 1990s, to assisting with recent works to expand the gallery in 2016.
A new home for contemporary art
In the late 1980s, the Tate Galleries were looking for a new home to house their contemporary collection. Finding themselves constrained by limited space in London, the decision was made to split the galleries work between British and Modern, creating two distinct galleries to house each collection.
Stanhope was involved in helping shortlist potential sites, helping Tate eventually secure the Bankside Power Station, the iconic telephone box designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, architect of the Battersea Power Station.
Herzog & de Meuron’s winning proposal respected the three power station functions areas – the main Turbine Hall in the centre, the Boiler House to the north, and the Switch House to the south. Work began on the first two areas in June 1995, and was completed by January 2000, and opened to the public on 11th May 2000.
Ensuring a smooth build
Stanhope worked closely with Tate across all aspects of the project. This included work to help secure planning permissions, as well as complex construction logistics to deplant the power station and negotiate existing cables and infrastructure that supplied power to Central London and Southwark. Stanhope also oversaw a competition to identify the architect for the project before leading the overall design and build processes for the project.
The Switch House continued in use up to 2004, delivering power to the city of London. After the extra land was released in 2006, Tate worked with Stanhope to create a further 400,000 sq ft of additional space for the gallery. The first of these spaces opened in 2012 in the former oil storage tanks. Named The Tanks, the space became the world’s first gallery spaces permanently dedicated to live art.
Consulting for the future
Additional plans involved developing the space above The Tanks into a ten-storey facility, housing new displays, exhibition space, office, catering, and retail areas. Stanhope worked with Tate to audit and review the design process for the extension, as well as providing technical support to ensure a feasible and cost-efficient build.
The second phase of the building, now named The Blavatnik Building, was opened on 17 June 2016 to widespread public acclaim. What was once a forgotten part of London is now a thriving quarter, with Tate acting as the catalyst for the many new cafes, shops, parks, and hotels that surround a gallery that is one of London’s most distinctive locations and now the sixth most visited museum in the world.
Originate, Manage, Design
1995 to 2016