We finally managed to visit the Tate Modern Switch House, Tate Modern's new addition which expands the museum by 60% to accommodate the surging numbers of visitors which reached 5.7 million last year, well over double the number the building was designed to cope with when it opened in 2000.
Made of brick, it looks like a squat pyramid, twisting as it rises. Thin slits of windows help it remain close to the spirit of the existing building and Giles Gilbert Scott's approach to the original power station. Architects Herzog and de Meuron who first transformed the original power station have knit two such different structures together, such as the brick lattice work on the new building linking into the distinctive cladding of the original.
We entered via the Turbine Hall, turned right and found ourselves in the subterranean Tanks.
The Tanks which were filled with oil that fuelled the turbines show the industrial origin of Tate Modern. The new building emerges out of these tanks.
A curved, sweeping staircase leads up to the ten floors, but there are lifts as well. The new building is full of a variety of stairs, ramps and large areas with benches and niches to meet and hang out. These places will offer lots of opportunities for both artists and curators to present artworks outside the 'official' display areas inside the galleries.
We had seen the Georgia O'Keefe exhibition in the 'old' building earlier in the day so we were ready for some lunch. The new members' room on the fourth floor was a very pleasant surprise.
The exterior brickwork which is perforated allows daylight to enter and to soften the robustness of the building. It appears like something light, almost like textile or knitwear.
Spacious, airy, with comfortable seating, it's a delightful space to relax.
The views of the city from the windows are panoramic
and include St Paul's Cathedral,
the Thames and the Turbine Hall Tower.
Having enjoyed our lunch we then took the lift to the 10th floor to enjoy more views from the viewing terrace which was extremely busy because it was a Saturday.
The terrace offers spectacular 360-degree views of the London skyline .
This view is similar to the one from the members' room but much clearer without the interference of glass
We walked all around and stopped opposite Neo Bankside where we could peer into the living rooms of these flats that are valued between 4 and 20 million. We had read in the papers about the residents complaining that they had lost their privacy, conveniently forgetting that their apartments cost such exorbitant prices because of their proximity to the gallery.
Signs all around the viewing gallery are a result of these complaints.
'Having accidentally spawned this exclusive enclave, it's as if the Tate has now co-opted it as a site-specific installation', wrote Oliver Wainwright in the Guardian. Indeed.
We moved on to views of Waterloo bridge,
St Paul's and the Millenium bridge,
but it was too busy, so we went back inside and moved down to the third floor for the Louise Bourgeois exhibition
then wandered around a bit more. Exposed concrete is to be found throughout the many circulation areas, and untreated oak floors throughout, same as with the 'old' building.
And then on to the bridge
which is slung across the Turbine Hall and connects the two buildings.
Down below, the Turbine Hall looked busy so we decided to go down and have a look
No installation this time, but people were lying on the newly-laid carpet, chilling.
Lots of people milling about outside, lovely atmosphere.