Tate Modern Reopened Its Controversial Viewing Platform With Restricted Access to Protect Its Neighbors’ Privacy

The U.K.'s Supreme Court had ruled that the viewing platform was a "nuisance" to residents of nearby luxury apartments.

Exterior view of the Blavatnik Building at Tate Modern gallery of contemporary art on 23rd July 2022 in London, United Kingdom. Named after philanthropist Len Blavatnik, a generous donator to the gallery, this was originally and temporarily called the Switch House. Tate Modern is based in the former Bankside Power Station in Southwark and is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world. As with the UKs other national galleries and museums, there is no admission charge for access to the collection displays, which take up the majority of the gallery space. The redevelopment of the space was undertaken by architects Herzog & de Meuron. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)

Tate Modern has reopened its viewing platform on the 10th floor of the Blavatnik Building under the new name Level 10. It had been closed for over three years since the beginning of the pandemic and now offers restricted access to just three sides of the original platform so that visitors can no longer disturb the residents of a neighboring apartment complex.

Earlier this year, a lengthy legal battle between Tate and the residents of NEO Bankside finally came to a close. The U.K.’s Supreme Court ruled that the viewing platform was a “clear case of nuisance,” and handed the matter down to a High Court to decide how it should be solved. Some feared that the platform may have to remain closed permanently but instead the museum has complied with the ruling by restricting public access.

The rooftop viewing gallery was designed to give panoramic views of the city, and it opened in 2016. It quickly became the subject of controversy after visitors began peering into the glass-walled, luxury apartments opposite and, in some cases, taking invasive snaps for Instagram. Wealthy residents—a penthouse in NEO Bankside can reportedly cost as much as £20 million ($25 million)—described being stared and waved at and feeling forced to keep their blinds down.

After initially taking the matter up with the Tate, who put up ineffectual signs asking visitors to “respect our neighbors’ privacy,” five residents decided to take legal action in 2017. They filed a claim in the high court saying that the platform interfered with their ability to “provide a safe or satisfactory home environment for young children.” They sought an injunction requiring the museum to cordon off part of the platform.

In early 2019, a High Court judge ruled in favor of the Tate and the decision was upheld in 2020. Justice Anthony Mann, said the museum was not “making an unreasonable use of its land” and pointed out that the design of the flats made them abnormally vulnerable to privacy invasions. The tide changed in the neighbors’ favor this year, after the U.K.’s Supreme Court ruled with a majority of three against two that the Tate is liable if its visitors cause a nuisance, overturning all previous decisions.

At one time, so many visitors were enjoying the view into people’s private living spaces that artist Max Siedentopf installed a dozen binoculars to help them out. “No other artwork on display attracts as much fascination as these open-plan apartments,” he said.

Level 10 is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

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