When Tate Modern’s new Switch House extension opened to the public in June 2016 it dazzled the critics with its bold design and panoramic views over the London skyline. However, according to a claim filed in the High Court, not everyone has been left starry-eyed over the architectural addition to the South Bank.
Residents of neighbouring apartment blocks are suing Tate Modern for having turned their flats into ‘goldfish bowls’ after nosy tourists were spotted peering into their homes from the gallery’s 10th floor viewing platform. Voyeuristic visitors to the pyramid tower platform were even said to have photographed the interior of residents’ glass-fronted apartments and posted them on social media. One image captures a pet cat at the window while in others, residents are snapped chatting on their phones and relaxing on their sofas.
The residents of the luxury Neo Bankside apartments had threatened to take legal action against the gallery in September 2016. Enraged by what they argue is a breach of their human rights, five claimants have now lodged a claim in London’s High Court demanding that Tate Modern erect a screen to protect their privacy and pay their legal costs. The claim states that the gallery has turned its neighbours into ‘a public exhibit for the benefit of those using the viewing platform’.
In a statement released by Tate Modern responding to the legal claim the gallery reiterated that ‘the design of the building has always included a high-level terrace for the benefit of the public’. The gallery has also erected a sign on the platform requesting visitors to ‘Please respect our neighbours’ privacy’.
The Switch House viewing gallery forms part of Tate Modern’s new £260 million extension designed by Herzog & de Meuron. According to Tate chairman, Lord Browne of Madingley, the drive for private and public donations to the project was ‘one of the largest cultural fundraising campaigns ever launched in the UK’.