Tate Modern Structure…

Everywhere you look at the Tate Modern there appears to be a grid or formal structure. As Susannah has very clearly shown on her blog the building itself is of a very simple, symmetrical design which can be reduced to rectangles and lines. This is then reflected throughout the building which appears to have no organic forms within it. It’s all straight lines… from the turbine hall, which is this vast tunnel that draws you into the building, to the flooring, the lighting and even the staircases. The are all arranged at right angles…


This structure gives the Tate its physical identity and so, not surprisingly, it has been carried through into the gallery itself in the signage, the cloakroom layout, the way the shop is laid out and the layout of posters, for example…


Clearly the architects worked with the structure of the building when they designed the conversion. Indeed, as it says on the Tate website (“The final choice [of architects] was Herzog and De Meuron, a relatively small and then little known Swiss firm. A key factor in this choice was that their proposal retained much of the essential character of the building.”).

I’ve not yet done the research around the City Hall area but I know the building at it has a very different form from Tate Modern. It’s a curvaceous building with a structure made from panes of triangular glass that the architects, Foster & Partners, have made somewhat a “house style”. They are also responsible for the Gherkin and the Great Court at the British Museum.


So maybe in the way that it has been possible to classify the pictures according to simple, complex and random structures it is possible to do the same with buildings… Some more “random” looking buildings might include the Guggenheim in Bilbao (Frank Gehry), or the works of Gaudi in Barcelona:




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2 responses to “Tate Modern Structure…

  1. Tony Pritchard

    Shop window displays that have an interesting contrast in approaches is something that strikes me from the posts. As do the signage and store directories. Floors and changing surfaces – could one detect something about the city and location by what is under our feet?

    • Matthew

      The idea of surfaces in particularly interesting, thanks. We are taught to look up to see the unexpected but what happens if we look down… I’m going to have a think about something along the lines of this; communication in the city using the horizontal surfaces – how much and how good… Initial thoughts suggest there might be something in this:

      1. On the underground – the use of changing surfaces to indicate the edge of the platform; different upholstery on different tube lines

      2. On the roads – different coloured lanes for cyclists (as a cyclist I know how ineffective this is!)

      3. Interiors – Pret a Manger metal floors

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