It's all very well for Arup Acoustics and Derek Sugden to say that the work of rival acousticians Kirkegaard will 'fail to meet the standards demanded by the South Bank Centre'. Remember, Kirkegaard was selected instead of Arup Acoustics in an open process in the mid-1990s.
However, it is important for our culture that buildings are allowed to develop. We have to be able to alter buildings in a sensitive way and to make them meet the changing aspirations of society. Criticising what is a well-considered viable solution merely increases the probability that nothing will happen and that the building will become irrelevant. When the RFH was built, the design was tailored to meet the acoustic understanding of the time. It is true that this has now changed and that Derek Sugden has been one of the leaders in wanting the acoustic solutions to be driven by good building and architecture without fussy additions.
Allies and Morrison has already had Leslie Martin and Peter Moro's accolade for understanding the RFH architecture, when it cleared out the foyer space below the auditorium and restored the original concept.
The proposals to increase the reverberation of the acoustic without relying on modern electrical amplification systems have been worked out by Allies and Morrison and Kirkegaard, and we should anticipate that the RFH will get a new lease of life.
Buildings need to be kept upto-date in a bold way. Of course, it is possible to let them go quietly out of date and out of use so that our history is allowed quietly to decay to the detriment of our quality of life.
Max Fordham, London