Letter: Bankside is best site for gallery

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The Independent Online
Sir: David Cohen makes out a seductive case for siting the Tate's proposed gallery of modern art in Battersea Power Station (Letters, 1 September). But I wonder if there is not a stronger candidate in another disused London power station, at Bankside. Battersea is remote from the tube and from existing tourist attractions; it fronts a fairly charmless stretch of the Thames and is backed by a wasteland of railway tracks; nor is it a particularly attractive (as distinct from historically significant) building, especially now that J. T. Halliday's extraordinary interiors have been ripped out.

Giles Gilbert Scott had a minor, mainly cosmetic, role in the Battersea design, but he was sole architect for Bankside half a century later. Aesthetically all of a piece, this is arguably his finest secular building, a long, low, purple-brick cathedral with an elegantly tapering central tower. The vast interior spaces are bathed in natural light from the generous neo-

perpendicular windows and from the glazing set into flat roofs. The crucial argument for Bankside is its near-ideal location. Set back from the riverside walk behind sloping lawns, easily accessible on foot, well served by public transport, it stands opposite Cannon Street station, right next to what will surely become one of the capital's prime tourist sights, the reconstructed Globe Theatre.

Bankside is currently being cleared of asbestos. After this (if my information is correct) the developers will set about raising the cash to convert it into an indoor fun-fair: an ignoble fate which nearly overtook its sister station. Assuming that no practical considerations preclude conversion into an art gallery, I can think of no finer available home for the proposed collection in London, nor any worthier use for Scott's admirable building.

Yours faithfully,


London, SE1

2 September