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Editorial

New Tate names miss national achievements and local identity

The institution which was to be called Tate Bankside is now to be called Tate Modern, while the building which was once simply the Tate is to be rebranded as Tate Britain. This dual re-christening has the effect of divorcing both buildings from their immediate locales. This is particularly unfortunate in the case of Tate Modern, a scheme which has been applauded as much for its role in the regeneration of a neglected part of town, as for the architectural merit of Herzog & De Meuron's scheme to transform the redundant power station into a modern gallery.

The London Borough of Southwark embraced the flagship qualities of the scheme to the extent that it has started to use the name of Bankside as the basis of the identity of the surrounding area. One of the many recent street improvements is a series of vast 'Bankside' signs, designed by Caruso St John, and installed at five local sites.

But 'Bankside' has been ditched, apparently as a result of concerns that visitors aiming for the gallery would mistakenly alight at Bank tube station, across the River. If it no longer makes sense to name the neighbourhood after its art gallery, shouldn't the gallery be named after its neighbourhood? And if navigation is really the issue, why not call the galleries Tate Southwark and Tate Westminster, adopting names which have gained familiarity and stature by virtue of being associated with two of London's most ancient religious sites?

Both have given their names to tube stations. But much of the capital's recent investment has gone into tube stations, and Westminster and Southwark - both designed by leading British architects - are civic achievements which we should be showing off to visitors. Michael Hopkins and Partners' new design for Westminster tube is not the nearest to the Tate, but it's near enough. Most tourists would be delighted with a walk which takes in the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and a short stretch of the Thames. As for Southwark, when MacCormac Jamieson Prichard's tube station finally opens, it will be one of the most convenient stops for the newest of the Tates.

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