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The Tanks at Tate Modern

July 30, 2012

An underground exhibition space housed in the former industrial cylinders beneath the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall opens in London, designed by Herzog & de Meuron.

Opening last week, Herzog and de Meuron’s The Tanks are an extraordinary addition to the Tate Modern’s exhibition spaces. The Swiss architects won the competition to construct a new wing for the gallery in 2005, and The Tanks is the first phase of the design, which is due for completion in 2016.

Originally industrial cylinders that held oil to fuel the turbines of the former power station, the three underground concrete tanks have been adapted to house exhibitions of film, performance, sound work and installation. Where Herzog and de Meuron’s design resonates is in the respect it shows the building’s original bones. Leaving the raw concrete walls and supports exposed makes for a robust ‘frame’ that, while strong in visual impact, also recedes just enough, when need be, to allow the artworks to dominate. The synergy between permanent structure and temporary exhibition is dynamic, and the dark, moody interior makes for an immersive visitor experience.

A new commission from Korean artist Sung Hwan Kim is the first artwork to be shown in The Tanks, featuring optical illusions that reference a rich history of performance and film (18 July to 28 October 2012).

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