Architect Jacques Herzog on Tate Modern

Jacques Herzog, one half of architecture superstars Herzog and De Meuron, shares his vision for transforming Tate Modern

Herzog and De Meuron have been behind some of the world’s most spectacular buildings – from Beijing’s Olympic Stadium to the original Tate Modern nearly a decade ago.

In 2016 Tate Modern's ambitious new extension opened to the public. TateShots was given privileged access to the architects’ studio in Basel, Switzerland, when the work was underway. In our film, Jacques Herzog talks about his excitement to be working on the project, and why TM2 (as the new building project was known) would stand out in London’s busy skyline.


It’s a sign of confidence the Tate gave us, and asked us whether we could also work on the completion project. And it’s very special, because we have done the first building, or renovated, or restructured, or re-invented the first building, you know, with the turbine hall. All these things turned out to be successful. The Tate needs to be one thing. But of course this one thing, because it’s so large, has to offer a variety of different things. It’s about different types of galleries, in size and in… and also in the lighting and the atmosphere. Different kind of public spaces. We will have more spaces for Media Art, more cave-like spaces; we will use the oil tanks, which are a fantastic opportunity. Everybody may ask himself or herself ‘why this form’, which is something between a very rational form and a very irrational form, or pyramidal shape. And it’s to do with the geometries given there of the land parcel; but also angles that would lead people into the building, opening up, reclining or bending over; so very archaic, almost sculptural impulses, which have a very clear and rational basis. The idea is that walking and moving through the building itself is an interesting experience. Every connection from one floor to the other is a different one, and we have made many models, many different stairs, which are always not just stairs, but also almost like little stadia, or hang-out places, or bench areas, so that these stairs or these ways to turn or to reach the next floor are places where you could say, ‘let’s meet there’, or ‘let’s meet there’. So it’s really in terms of topography like a little city. Let’s meet near this bridge, or near the station, or in this café. Brick is not a cool material today, and nobody uses brick, especially not for these new buildings around the Tate. So that was another reason to jump exactly onto that. We could not just add a glass wing, or some other lightweight kind of architecture, or aluminum style architecture. With what we have in mind, the building will stand much more alone – be different, let’s say, from the office blocks around. And I think everybody understands that the new part now should add more, and something that doesn’t exist now; and that’s a fantastic opportunity.

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