Last week saw the long-awaited and much-anticipated formal handover of the western switch station (behind Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall) to Tate. UK Power Networks have completed the task of upgrading their cables (over the last ten years we have seen the company running the power station change several times) and passed the baton to us (still owned by the people).
The handover marks a key point in the delivery of the Tate Modern Project. It means we are now able to begin to demolish the old switch house which will then allow us to create the opening from the main Tate Modern building to the new development. When the project is complete, this will create a new link from the City and the Millennium Bridge directly to south London. Its very much in keeping with a central aim of the project; to open up the building both physically and, in the work we do, to areas and communities to the south of us particularly in Southwark and Lambeth.
What else are we up to on site?. With the demolition now underway (we haven’t quite made demolition news yet, I joke not, but you never know) we have also been completing laying the foundations and core piling (here is an interesting blog on piling) for the oil tanks. One-and-a-half-metre deep concrete has now been poured to cover the foundations of the tanks and other spaces we will use in and around them. I asked one of our technical experts how much concrete that amounted to and his answer was that’s a h*** of a lot of concrete which was reassuringly non-technical, but of course its all being done to the highest standards you would expect. (According to my records it will be around 10,300 m3 - that’s similar to, very topically, filling the Olympic swimming pool. ED)
A recent visit on site by some of the curators working on the programme for the oil tanks (which will be revealed later this year) with the project architects from Herzog De Meuron confirmed that we will try to retain much of the rough industrial feel of the tank walls for the finished use. It’s quite exciting to think about these beautiful (unique for London) spaces being available to thousands of visitors to enjoy in the future. We are following this philosophy in the rest of the project, looking to retain quirky spaces (like the Drum Gallery which used to be used as a sump - here shown embossed with Bankside on the metalwork), and give the heritage a twist by remaking them as spaces for art or artistic intervention.
We will be starting to put the lids back over the tanks over the summer so do have a look at our webcam to see them while they’re still opened up.