Tate Modern is exploring the idea of offering a home to both a new London architecture centre and the Photographers' Gallery. Plans are at an early stage, but the offer could solve accommodation problems for both organisations, as well as broadening the gallery's fine art remit.
The Tate has yet to develop the vast switching station - one third of the building - at the former Bankside Power Station, but an architectural competition is expected to be launched within the next 18 months (AJ 17.5.01).
'The Tate has always had the hope that other arts organisations might congregate around the gallery. Early discussions are certainly happening, ' confirmed a spokeswoman for Tate Modern.
The Photographers' Gallery, which inhabits cramped spaces near Leicester Square, is currently deciding whether to embark on a refurbishment project or to relocate to a new site.
And the Architecture Foundation, which has long campaigned for a dedicated architecture centre for the capital, is confident that it will soon have raised the necessary funds. Lucy Musgrave, director of the foundation, has already decided that a new centre will be built at one of three locations on the south bank: near Foster and Partner's new GLA building; beside the Royal Festival Hall; or a site close to (or inside) Tate Modern.
'The Tate idea is something we have been aware of, ' said Musgrave. 'We have spoken to Nicholas Serota about it but we're at a very early stage of the conversation. We have written to him and asked for a meeting.'
Musgrave is, however, aware that taking up space within the gallery might compromise the mission of a new architecture centre. 'That is a serious talking point for any organisation like us.We could be somewhat in the shadow of the Tate. It's absolutely essential that we hang on to our independence, ' she said.
Another factor is timing - Musgrave might well have raised the money for the centre long before space at the Tate becomes available.
Paul Wombell, director of the Photographers' Gallery, last month received £3.5 million from the Arts Council as a contribution to relocating to a new building designed by Eric Van Egeraat Architects - 'probably' to be located near the Tate, according to an Arts Council document.
'Nick [Serota] has said in public that design, architecture and photography could be given room in the extra space within Tate Modern, but the situation is very fluid, ' said Wombell, who is to make a decision in September.