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'Glastonbury by the River' and Icons of the Southbank

Part 1 Project 2009
Selina Kar Wai Cheung
University of Westminster, UK
The transformation of the Bankside Power Station into the Tate Modern was part of the regeneration of Southwark. This transformation involved the provision of public spaces such as the turbine hall and the open areas flanking the front and back of the Tate.

This design project revisits these ambitions and particularly addresses how the spaces around the Tate can be landscaped to accommodate artwork, host public events, and provide outdoor green spaces for the local community. The studio brief further stipulates the introduction of three works of art and architecture, namely Jean Prouve’s Tropical House prototype, Guernica painting by Picasso, and his sculpture Chicago Picasso. Consequently the inclusion of these elements is read as a continuation of the existing iconic attractions, theatres, arts and other design-led venues along the Thames.

The project ‘Glastonbury by the River’ is located on the open spaces fronting the Tate, extending along the banks and even in the river Thames. This proposal is designed around the themes of temporary structures and water recycling. The enclosures required for the various events are inspired by the lightweight components in Prouve’s Tropical House and the variations to be constructed revolve around the ideas of assembling and dismantling.

This project looks to develop the neglected area at the back of the Tate where three existing oil tanks of the Power Station are located. These tanks will now house the Guernica painting, a sculpture garden inspired by this painting and a reproduction of the Teatro Olympico. This Teatro Olympico follows similar concepts to the ideas governing the neighbouring Globe Theatre, allowing performances of Renaissance plays alongside other visitor program organised by the Tate. This ‘jewel’ has been designed to capture the essence of the original theatre in Vicenza, and is set to float above one of the oil tanks. One other tank is remodelled to house the Guernica painting and sculpture garden designed as part of the outdoor green spaces. The imposing Chicago Picasso sculpture is also located on this site, set within a series of platforms and blocks that further attest to the public ambitions of the landscape design.

Selina Kar Wai Cheung

The studio program looked to revisit iconic and famous pieces of art and architecture in tandem with the development of the area surrounding the Tate Modern. The brief hypothesized the acquisition of Jean Prouve’s Tropical House prototype, Picasso’s Guernica painting and his sculpture Chicago Picasso. The site was chosen to ensure that an aspect of the proposals would be designed as an extension of the Tate’s exhibits and public programs. This strategy would further serve to compliment the inventive design and public use of outdoor spaces and activities within the site.

Inherent to the studio’s identity is the development of design narratives that encourage alternative and more potent ways to engage with the works at hand. Selina’s project addresses this from the scale of the masterplan right down to the scale of the construction detail. The concept and construction of Prouve’s Tropical House have been reinvented to support the events in her design proposal for ‘Glastonbury by the River’. This simple yet effective and sustainable approach that includes the principles of temporary structures and water recycling, is able to accommodate and entertain large masses of people.

A similarly inventive and disciplined design approach extends to the presently neglected area at the back of the Tate where the Guernica painting, a Guernica inspired installation, the Chicago Picasso sculpture, and a replica of the Teatro Olympico have been incorporated into the landscape. This is in addition to the provision of outdoor green spaces for the local residents. This staging both questions known conventions and enables new contextual readings of the works.

The strength of Selina’s project lies in the fact that all the elements can be engaged with on different levels. On one hand, they have been meticulously designed to be enjoyed individually in response to the specificity of their locations. Simultaneously, these same elements can also be read as additions to and a continuation of London’s landmarks and icons straddling the Thames river.


• Page Hits: 6460         • Entry Date: 11 September 2009         • Last Update: 14 September 2009