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Architects Herzog and DeMeuron: Alchemy of Building & Tate Modern

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Architects Herzog and DeMeuron: Alchemy of Building & Tate Modern


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The Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron (architects of the Beijing National Stadium, or "Bird's Nest") were jointly awarded the 2001 Pritzker Prize, their profession’s highest honour, for combining “the artistry of an age-old profession with the fresh approach of a new century’s technical capabilities”. Over the past twenty years they have been involved in finding inventive architectural solutions to building a diverse range of projects – domestic, municipal and commercial – from a modest switching station for trains to a strikingly innovative approach to the design of a winery. Their highest profile commission to date was the conversion of London’s giant Bankside power station into Tate Modern, acclaimed by their peers, the media and the public alike.

Visiting examples of Herzog and de Meuron’s ground-breaking style, this film reflects their capacity to astonish and explore the way in which they transform what might otherwise be ordinary shapes, materials and surfaces through new treatments and techniques. Their perspective on and approach to architecture; their design dialogue; the way their strengths and weaknesses complement each other; and their collaborations with others, particularly artists, will all be brought into focus to give a fascinating insight into the cutting edge of architecture today.

The Tate Modern was opened to the public in London on May 12th 2000. The new building is part of the Tate Gallery, the largest contemporary art museum in the world.

Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate Gallery, recalls his idea of turning the power station, which was built in various stages by Sir Gilbert Scott between 1948 and 1963, into the Tate Modern.

The conversion of the disused power station, as designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, was applauded by professionals and art lovers alike. Starting from an electric power station running on gas oil they have created an architectural masterpiece whose fame will be recognized well beyond London.

Thanks to the contribution of Jacques Herzog and Harry Gugger, partners in the Herzog & de Meuron practice, the documentary retraces some fascinating insights into the architecture of the Tate Modern. Following this line of thinking one is bound to notice how significant even an apparently unimportant detail can be for the work as a whole.

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