Thursday, 12 January 2017

The Marxists Behind Tate Modern Switch House

Herzog and de Meuron, the shadowy architects behind Tate Modern’s Switch House, give titillating tell-all about London’s most controversial viewing platform.

Was the Tate Modern's Switch House designed by anti-capitalist provocateurs?  –Yes.


23:15 Thursday 12 January 2017

The Switch House, by Herzog and de Meuron, courted scandal in the second half of 2016 when it became apparent visitors could see into nearby Neobank luxury apartments. The residents complained after their demented, vacuous lives were put on public display.Yet statements from the architects themselves indicate this was all part of a plan.

Speaking to NWT correspondents, Jacques Herzog explained, “All controversy caused was intentional. But we originally set our ‘sights’ higher [Herzog laughs]”.

Neobank: Aftermath of Bunga bunga party hastily tidied away. Disgusting.
“What we really wanted, was an apartment-block layered by social class. The oppressed working class would live on the lower floors, shitting and howling. Then the bourgeoisie would be on top, like in the film High Rise with Tom Hiddleston.” 

“We hoped that having inequality thrust in their faces, the residents of the lower floors would take over the complex and throw their bourgeois neighbours off the roof. But it wasn't feasible. A ground floor flat by the river alone sets you back £3M”.

“That’s when we came up with the Switch House project,” joins in de Meuron. “We had already explored the idea of “peeping-in” in the past. We built Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government, making it totally see-through. I mean, you could see absolutely everything. Its design expressed the need to expose rampant government corruption. Despite what many said, the fact you could see into the women’s bathroom was merely incidental”.

UoOxford Blavatnik School of Govt. Women's facilities not visible from this angle

“For the Switch House we found a space in the Tate Modern, at one time a power station. It was a symbolic choice, a cathedral for the working class. It's this huge brown building surrounded by sleek, shiny neighbouring towers... It sort of looks like a massive turd in a silver punch bowl. That's also kind of symbolic isn't it? And it's free entry to the public.” said an excited de Meuron.

“We knew the nearby glass towers were home to London’s rich.” continued Herzog. “Glass is modern, its aspirational, its elegant. But it's also see-through. And we like that."

At this point de Meuron leans in, serious: “This project sought to remind those living in the towers: We see you watching Top Gear reruns on your 65-inch Beovision TV… We see you weeping unconsolably in your Hans Grohe rain shower… We see your botched attempts to hang yourself with a Lanvin silk tie. To us you are nothing more than rats in a glass cage. Remember we are watching.”

We interviewed the director of the Tate Modern, Frances Morris, to see if the Switch House project was having its desired effect:

It's lovely having stewardship over the Switch House. Seeing into our neighbours' homes gives me such inspiration. The owners of Neobank Apartment 9, Block C have furnished their lounge with a Michel Corner sofa by B&B Italia. Not for the feint-of-heart at £12,000rrp. Thankfully my generous salary permits inspiration to become reality. I have one on order, so I'll no longer have to gaze endlessly at it across a yawning urban ravine, through the window into someone else's living-room.

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