Southbank overhaul revealed: FCBS plans big glass box
London’s Southbank Centre has unveiled its proposed £120 million Festival Wing redevelopment, designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
Featuring a glazed ‘liner’ building and a semi-transparent, box-like sky pavilion, the 28,000m² overhaul and extension will double the size of the Thameside, Brutalist concrete complex.
Housing a raised rehearsal space, educational facilities, restaurants and shops, the new additions will sit on top of the 1967 London County Council-designed landmark, which has been threatened with demolition in recent years.
Outdoor terraces and the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery venues will be refurbished, while new arts facilities and retail will occupy an undercroft beneath the complex, requiring a world famous skate park to be moved to nearby Hungerford Bridge. About 20 per cent of floor space will be commercial.
A new foyer will connect the venues to the National Theatre and British Film Institute and, via a grand staircase the Royal Festival Hall, while services will be relocated to the site’s periphery.
A public consultation launches today and a planning application is expected in late spring. The Southbank Centre hopes to start construction in 2014 and open the facility which will be renamed ‘Festival Wing’ two years later.
Source: Image by Linda Nylind
Former architecture minister John Penrose twice refused to list the angular complex against the recommendation of English Heritage which supports the current plans.
Twentieth Century Society director Catherine Croft described the glazed rehearsal space as a ‘very significant intervention’. Croft added: ‘Like much sculpture of a similar date it is the void spaces between the solid forms that are as crucial as the buildings themselves.’
Design Council Cabe chair Paul Finch said: ‘This is a truly significant intervention because it respects and upgrades the past while introducing bold additions, which will be unmistakably of their time.’
Formerly known as the Southbank Concert Halls, the complex opened in 1968 – 17 years after the festival of Britain – as part of an LCC masterplan for the post-industrial area’s transformation.
Southbank Centre artistic director Jude Kelly said the project would unlock the original architects’ vision for the complex as a landscaped background for colourful outdoor happenings.
Hayward Gallery architect Dennis Crompton welcomed the designs: ‘Looking at the proposals I have hope this welcome, and much overdue, liveliness will be amplified and extended.’
The riverside arts centre saw visitor numbers increase from 18 million to 25 million following Allies and Morrison’s £100 million overhaul Grade I-listed masterpiece.
Last summer a swathe of architect and artist-designed installations transformed the Southbank as part of the centre’s second annual festival programme.
RIBA London, which will construct a bandstand for this summer’s showcase, has launched an open call for students wishing to take part. The deadline for applications is 20 March.
Southbank Centre chief executive Alan Bishop said the revamped complex would have fewer plots for artists’ installations. Bishop said dining pop-ups – such as Softroom’s Wahaca restaurant – which would however from a new stable of serviced plots provided by the scheme.
The festival Wing
Queen Elizabeth Hall
The auditorium will be refurbished with the width of the stage expanded to create wing space with less impact on sightlines. Artistic and technical facilities will be upgraded along with back of house and disability access. New access will be provided to central foyer.
Auditorium and back of house will be refurbished to improved stage access. technical facilities and disability access are to be upgraded. A new entrance will create access from the central foyer.
Galleries to be refurbishing with improved access through spaces to enable free exhibitions. The iconic pyramid roof will be replicated to improve lighting and be made watertight. Access to the central foyer and a new secure loading bay will be created.
New Central Foyer
A glazed atrium between the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery is planned as an ‘artistic and social hub’ linking the complex to the British Film Institute and National Theatre.
A floating venue designed to hold a 150-strong orchestra and a choir of up to 250 people with a small audience. It will also host corporate events
The ‘liner’ building
Between the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Waterloo Bridge, the glazed ‘liner’ building will provide space for educational, artistic and commercial cultural uses. Designed as a large flexible space, the flexible space will host a broader, year-round education programme for all age groups and abilities. The Saison Poetry Library will move from Level 5 in the Royal Festival Hall to join a literature and spoken word space in a new literature centre, and two new restaurants will overlook the river.
Undercrofts will be reclaimed for artistic and cultural uses; including a new venue for gigs, dance, cabaret, music and spoken word events and a space for young people.
Heritage and Archive Space
Occupying the undercoft, the public facility will explore the site’s history and include hands-on installations.
Designed for children and families, the undercroft facility will feature storytelling and interactive activities alongside exhibitions and a family restaurant. It will also be home to the childrens’ collection of the Poetry Library.
New public spaces include a square and two new roof gardens.
New riverside area for skateboarders, BMX and graffiti located under Hungerford Bridge and visible to the public from Queen’s Walk