Standing on the south bank of the Thames opposite the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's vast brick edifice, with its tower of 325 feet, dominates the scenery and ranks among the most imposing structures of central London. Yet, after its closure in 1981, the Bankside Power Station was rendered invisible to the public eye by its redundancy and the frequent threat of demolition. The reopening of Bankside in May 2000 as London's first national gallery of modern and contemporary art restores the grandeur of Scott's design and regenerates a much neglected area of the city. The conversion to art gallery by the Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron is marked by its extreme simplicity, at once enhancing the physical presence of the original architecture and completely transforming its derelict and impenetrable interior into an accessible, light-filled exhibition center. The tremendous affinity of contemporary art with ex-industrial settings has inspired a design that retains the monumental scale of the Turbine Hall and skillfully offers a range of spaces for widely differing types of art on the multiple floors of the Old Boiler House. This publication follows the story of the Bankside project and presents a stunning photographic account of every stage of its transformation. Including an interview with Jacques Herzog and Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, it provides a detailed analysis of Herzog and de Meuron's design and redefines the Tate's role within contemporary culture.
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