The view of Neo Bankside from the Tate. Photo: Alicia Canter for The Guardian.

Residents of Luxury Apartments Lose Privacy Case Against Tate Modern

Since Tate Modern opened its Herzog & de Meuron–designed extension in 2016, the museum has feuded with its neighbors, the residents of a nearby luxury apartment building, over the viewing platform on its tenth floor. The observation deck receives hundreds of thousands of visitors a year and offers panoramic views of the London skyline, as well as a direct line of sight into several of the expensive flats. On Tuesday, the British High Court ended the row by ruling in favor of the museum and dismissing a privacy lawsuit filed by a group of angry residents in 2017.

“These properties are impressive, and no doubt there are great advantages to be enjoyed in such extensive glassed views,” Justice Anthony Mann said in his decision. “But that in effect comes at a price in terms of privacy.” He added that there were a number of ways in which the owners could improve their situation and suggested they lower their solar blinds or install curtains.

Since the legal dispute began, residents have complained that photos of them in their apartments have been posted on Instagram by prying museumgoers. They also raised concerns about whether the lack of privacy makes the flats unsafe for children and claimed that they feel like they’re living in a zoo.

In response, Tate defended the platform, saying that its construction plans for the expansion were public knowledge before the apartments were on the market. It has also taken steps to mollify residents by adding signs that read, “Please Respect Our Neighbors’ Privacy,” hiring guards to prevent visitors from taking photos when facing the direction of the apartments, and reducing the platform’s opening hours so that it’s only accessible to the public until 5:30 PM from Sunday through Thursday and until 7 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

Natasha Rees, head of property litigation at Forsters, the law firm that represented the residents, criticized these modifications and said that her clients are considering an appeal. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Tate called the viewing platform “an important part of Tate Modern’s public offer” and said, “We are pleased it will remain available to our visitors.”