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Upside Down House

— December 2013

Associated media

The building due for demolition that will be temporarily transformed by Alex Chinneck

‘Alex Chinneck – Miner on the Moon (Upside Down House)’

20 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NY from 5 December 2013

Part of


As the Grande finale to MERGE 2013, artist Alex Chinneck will create a large-scale site-specific work on a building due for demolition on Blackfriars Road, London, UK. The currently disused site will have its façade turned upside down with a design that considers and celebrates the history and life of the building. The installation will remain in place for much of next year.

London-based artist Chinneck takes sculpturally complex routes to arrive at playful visual moments. Exploring the space between art, theatre and architecture, Chinneck takes his inspiration from the landscapes of London’s industrial peripheries. He reworks their powerful aesthetics and aims to find new and ambitious applications for everyday construction materials. The unrefined materials of basic construction are given a second life. Removed from their utilitarian context, they are reshaped and enlivened with new purpose and appearance. Stones, metals and woods are manipulated beyond their apparent capacity to transcend their material nature and often move with illusory effect.

History of the building

Built in 1780, the site was originally used as livery stables, housing horses and carriages for hire. The access through the site was also used to ferry live cattle and goods from the courtyard to trade along the Thames. The building itself was used as a residential unit for families and workers. In 1880 the ground floor shop unit changed use and was listed in the local Post Office as a pawnbroker, while the passageway to the side was used to gain access to the Tress and Co site. From the 1800s onwards the history of the building is unknown. Now there is a chance to create a narrative for its final days.

Situated on the south side of the River Thames in the London borough of Southwark, Bankside has been transformed, in a relatively short period of time, into one of the most popular cultural and business locations in the world.  With a skyline dominated by the former Bankside Power Station, which now houses Tate Modern, the district has become a significant business and tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors throughout the year. Playing host to iconic international crowd-pullers such as Shakespeare’s Globe and Borough Market, Bankside's great feat of planning has been to join up individual attractions to make one exciting coherent destination. Bankside is also called home by thousands of residents in long-established neighbourhoods, many of whom have lived here for several generations, residing alongside new residents attracted by the district’s continuing regeneration.

Donald Hyslop, Chairman of Better Bankside and Head of Partnerships at Tate Galleries, says:

In the space of little over a decade, Bankside  has been transformed into one of the most unique places in London, the UK and internationally for a cultural, business, residential and visitor experience.

‘We are immensely proud that these artists are giving their time to help us celebrate that success through the MERGE festival.

MERGE is created by Better Bankside and Illuminate Productions, and is supported by Tate Modern, Arts Council England, Ibstock brick, Fischer and Mace.

The public art project, called BANKSIDE TRANSFORMED, is part of MERGE Festival,  the annual arts, music and performance festival that celebrates the unique culture and history of Bankside by staging exhibitions, performances, and events in historic buildings and open spaces. Candy Chang and Marcus Lyall and Mark Logue have also transformed derelict and development sites across Bankside, London, with new site-specific public works of art.


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