The Tanks at Tate Modern


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The Tanks at Tate Modern should become the new mecca for London’s concrete lovers. Herzog & de Meuron have given Tate Modern its best exhibition space yet; a concrete temple to rival the tactile attractions of the Barbican and the National Theatre. While the main galleries at Tate Modern could be seen as clinical and devoid of any clues that betray the building’s history, the Tanks are full of traces of their past life as the underground oil storage vessels of Bankside Power Station.

The oil-stained concrete with its ‘as-found’ lettering is delightfully evocative of the building’s past life. The sharp new concrete provides the perfect counterbalance.

The Tanks are reminiscent of the galleries of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris but with the advantage of Bankside’s industrial heritage.

As at the entrance to the Tanks, the ‘as-found’ lettering is left undisturbed while new signage is projected. The play of old and new is deftly handled.