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C20 Society reveals alternative Southbank overhaul plans

The Twentieth Century Society has unveiled its own, alternative vision to regenerate London’s iconic Southbank Centre

The proposal – drawn up by architect and illustrator Sally Rendel – comes three months after the Southbank Centre agreed to pause and reconsider Fielden Clegg Bradley Studio’s (FCBS) plans for the Brutalist structure amid criticism from Cabe.

In a statement, the campaign group said the vision retained the ‘best elements’ of FCBS’s plan – such as the piazza, circulation routes and central steps – while also ‘preserving the scale and character of this important cultural hub.’

Major alterations however include dropping FCBS’s proposal for a glazed ‘liner building’ between the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Waterloo Bridge.

The controversial structure – planned to feature restaurants and flexible arts space – was criticised by the neighbouring National Theatre for its potential to ruin views towards Westminster.

The Hayward Gallery’s old director’s office – currently used as for a bar called Concrete – will also be retained.

Twentieth Century Society director Catherine Croft said: ‘This alternative vision shows that the South Bank Centre complex can easily accommodate change.

‘It is proof that imagination and understanding of the existing buildings could achieve a sustainable and sympathetic solution - an improved experience at the Southbank Centre, without the glass boxes that overwhelm and dwarf the site.’

The society has repeatedly campaigned to list the 1967 London County Council-designed landmark – comprising the Purcell Rooms, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery – however a certificate of immunity from listing was granted last year.

In response a spokesman for the Southbank Centre said: ‘This alternative scheme is a classic example of prioritising architecture over people and art, something which the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery have been criticised for since they were built.

‘We have consulted extensively with the Twentieth Century Society and they are fully aware of both the arts brief and the funding strategy to realise our future vision for Southbank Centre. As they must be aware, this scheme meets neither.’

Submitted for planned in May, FCBS’s 28,000m² Festival Wing project proposed a new glazed ‘liner’ building and semi-transparent sky pavilion above the Brutalist concrete complex.

The Southbank Centre was been granted extra time to review the £120 million scheme in July. It is understood the scheme will be considered for planning permission in early 2014.

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