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Feilden Clegg Bradley wins Southbank centre contest

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) has seen off an impressive shortlist to bag the contentious revamp of London’s Southbank Centre

The practice beat fellow finalists Allies and Morrison, Eric Parry Architects, Grimshaw, Heneghan Peng, OMA and Van Heyningen and Haward to land the multi-million project which will see the redevelopment of the complex’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery.

Bennetts Associates had already withdrawn from the competition, claiming that it had too much work and that it had ‘reservations about the brief’ (see AJ 20.09.2012). Rowan Moore, writing in the Observer, also raised concerns about the ‘commercially-led’ plans which he said could ‘make the Southbank Centre resemble Terminal 5 or Canary Wharf or any moderately upmarket shopping mall.’

The Twentieth Century Society, which had not been allowed to see the 700 page brief document, aired its own fears about the proposed overhaul (see below).

Explaining the jury’s choice, Rick Mather, the Southbank Centre’s masterplan architect and a member of the selection panel, said: ‘We heard a huge amount of high quality and serious thinking demonstrating six quite different approaches to this part of the site.

‘[The practice’s] proposals won because they best understood the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery complex and how it can be enjoyed and used more effectively. I look forward to seeing their designs develop over the coming months.’

As well as its approach and understanding, FCBS also provided a competitive fee offer

According to the contest organiser, the Southbank Centre, the selection was ‘not a design competition but a process using competitive interviews guided by broad principles that required recognition of the primacy of performance and the participatory usage of the spaces rather than just the structures; understanding the continuum of the relationship between the external and internal spaces; respect for the heritage of the site, bringing it up to 21st Century standards; and understanding of how the complex relates to the rest of the site and the context of the South Bank’.

A spokeswoman added: ‘In addition to FCBS being selected for their approach to and understanding of this part of the site, they also provided a competitive fee offer.’

A conservation management plan has already been drafted in consultation with Lambeth Council, English Heritage and the Twentieth Century Society.

FCBS will now work with the Southbank Centre to develop design proposals for the 21-acre site which former architecture minister John Penrose controversially refused to list back in July.

In addition to the core refurbishment, the practice will ‘explore a more ambitious project to reclaim unused and underused space to transform the whole of this complex and deliver more flexible cultural and social use in line with the successful and popular festival programme across art forms’.

The designs will be released in Spring 2013. 

Comment:

Catherine Croft, director of Twentieth Century Society
‘We love the way that the Southbank Centre has made temporary use of the terraces with the bar, beaches and the boat. But we really hope that what is in store is a minor tweaking and upgrading of the complex, and not an ambition to turn a cultural hub into a shell swamped with shops and restaurants.

We hope what is in store is a minor tweaking and not an ambition to turn a cultural hub into a shell swamped with shops

We need to take a long term view and understand that future generations will appreciate these 1960s buildings as some of the most important in the country. We look forward to meeting Feilden Clegg Bradley, and continuing our dialogue with the South Bank Centre.’

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