Another Architecture

by Mitch McEwen

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    Sweating Tanks at Tate

    Mitch McEwen
    Jan 24, '13 11:24 AM EST

    The Tanks at Tate Modern opened this past summer.  They are spaces dedicated to performance that also launch the next phase of the Herzog & de Meuron expansion.  As Herzog & de Meuron explain one aspect of this connection to the expansion " A row of new and inclined concrete columns penetrate the space and introduce a moment of structural force of what will be built above over the next years."

    Concrete columns do exactly that without taming the scale of the open spaces or their rawness.  On a visit to the Tanks last week I was impressed that the space was even more rough than implied in the opening photos.  Without bright lights washing out the tones, a visitor to the Tanks enters spaces with ladders to nowhere, patched up openings, dark discolorations and even writing on the concrete.  One could read this as a mood shifter from the clean white galleries above or as an art historically savvy homage to the late 20th century history of performance art.  On a wall asking for comments from visitors, many post-it notes included the word "spooky."


    I would be remiss - or obviously biased in my affection for the work of Herzog & de Meuron - if I didn't mention the bins collecting water.  Whether the concrete was sweating (e.g. sweating slab syndrome) or something was leaking I couldn't tell.  It had been raining in London for a week at that point, on and off, with some snow.  There were about a dozen of these bins interspersed throughout the open entrance gallery of the Tanks.  There was no caution tape, nor guard nearby.  I don't mean to romanticize the renovation, but these bins somewhat made evident the roughness of the space and its use.  There are no million dollar paintings here and not expensive finishes.  If there's water dripping on your head or the floor, just try not to slip.  

    In the metal tank exhibition space, visitors listen to an audio piece.

    Visitors watch William Kentridge films in the Tanks. 

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Posts are sporadic. Topics span architecture, urban design, planning, and tangents from these. I sometimes include excerpts of academic articles.

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