The new building has a lot of needs to fulfil, to accommodate visitors to what is the most visited art museum anywhere, to make spaces to show work, and to provide a contemporary setting for art which can also evolve as culture moves on in time. It also has to be something of an iconic structure, in sympathy with its surroundings and the older power station. It's a wonderful and welcome addition to what is becoming a very cluttered part of London - since TM came along, other blocks have sprung up next to it, offices and flats, oppressively crammed together, and often with odd angles jutting out.
Views are not add-ons, the long banks of windows so integral to the structure both inside and out. And the interior is not exactly white-cube neutral, but a warm concrete with wooden floors that still smell of shavings. Visible metals echo the industrial heritage of the Turbine Hall side, and generous floors of gallery spaces look moveable to adapt for differently shaped exhibitions. Art-wise, Tate haven't fully moved in to this space as yet, but can surely now accommodate the streams of visitors that come.
There are plenty of issues to discuss about Tate and the curatorial choices made, the choices of artists, the factory-warehouse industrial ethos, the way they describe and interpret, and so on. I think, however, that they missed a trick in the Switch House - the layout continues the endless conveyor belt approach of the Turbine Hall, an exhausting trawl through what is often an educational experience rather than one which allows the art to create its own atmosphere. Tate are very aware that they are a public space, but to be a centre of discourse, where artists can arrange meetings, where tutors and mentors can conduct classes, where artists and others come to work, write and think, there ought to be many more places with tables and chairs available. Not just cafes, the odd bench, or the members room, but places where people can stay for hours, being creative, being productive, without being shuffled on, endlessly directed and curated.