Hanhsaio TALKS ABOUT his passion for architectural spaces and what he sees beyond the bricks and mortar of Tate Modern


by Hanhsaio

I have always looked at interior spaces with complete fascination.  The initial impression you get from a space and the whole experience of wandering through the building have been pre-conceived from the design stages — known to designers as spatial manipulation.  Buildings are an art form.  For centuries, buildings have been used to propagate emotions.  As you begin to explore a building and weave through the space, you are navigating through the ‘system’ formulated by the architects and designers.  Every route you take, every corner, every corridor chosen, and the feelings they evoke, are a direct consequence of the purposeful design. 

To understand a space, I draw an anatomical image of everything I see, and anticipate what I cannot.  The end result may have its inaccuracies, as I must imagine the ‘hiding’ or ‘behind closed doors’ parts of the building.  This is how I comprehend a building and through my own manipulation, I get to trace the work of great designers, while adding my own touch to it. 

The Tate Modern is a great example of spatial manipulation.  When you arrive at the main entrance you are in a wide and open space.  

Visitors then walk down a stark elongated concrete incline, emphasising the raw physicality and grandeur of the building.  As you proceed down the ramp, the building opens up into an immense space.  The dense, black entrance creates an uninterrupted focal point for visitors — an introduction to the ‘influence’ of the Tate Modern as a structure.  

The ramp stops short before the ‘real’ entrance to the exhibition, creating a dense interior square, with the darkness serving to illuminate and construct a sense of mystery of what hangs on the other side.  The metal hallway above creates a hardened line in the air, and the columns, which support the hallway, and also, act as an enclosure of sorts. People automatically migrate towards this area as the combination of darkness and columns create a sense of perceived shelter, providing comfort and ease in the stark space.  The only lighting emanates from the gift shop, providing not only a sense of warmth through the colours and details of the books but also guiding visitors to the store. 

I particularly love sketching the main exhibition space. A playful juxtaposition of light and laminated glass versus brick walls, leading my sight uninterrupted from the entrance to the end of the hall.  These materials and the lighting emphasises the actual exhibitions and allows people to experience the building as an art form.  Sketching a building such as the Tate Modern not only inspires me as a designer, allowing me to draw a ‘database’, but also develops my understanding of a space as a form of art, that can be felt, illustrated and reacted upon.