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Peter Moro: an appreciation Two distinguished former colleagues provide their personal memories of a unique architectural figure

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obituary

When John McKean published his excellent Phaidon Press essay on the Festival Hall, he described some of the problems that were involved.

The subject had also been covered by articles in the Architectural Review for May 1951. A series of diagrams showed how the auditorium (the egg in a box) was enclosed by public spaces both underneath and around at all levels in the building. The problems of development were considerable.

When Peter Moro came to join me at the LCC in 1948 I was delighted, but I had to explain that the situation was not a simple one. Time was limited and a big build-up of architectural and technical staff was necessary. Space would be required for them and for Moro's team of designers. Fortunately, a large dilapidated area resulting from war damage was available on the river frontage at County Hall with close connection to the office of Robert Matthew and my own room. Peter Moro's team and their associates had a wonderful volume of space to work in, and it was here that he demonstrated immediately his own unique contribution in general and in detail.

The range of opportunity for Peter Moro's creative design must be quite clear. The interior treatment of the free-flowing foyer spaces, of the auditorium itself, especially the side walls and balcony fronts, were problems in which he was highly involved. But there are many matters of design interest. My own proposals had opened up floor space at many levels where carpeting would be required. An appropriate new pattern was needed, and required imaginative design such as his. Another instance of Moro's range of design skills was that he secured extended orchestra space by his design of a music stand which was mobile, adjustable and fitted in to the orchestra steps. He was also responsible for introducing Robin Day into the team, who designed the seating and furniture.

But Moro's ideas went much further. With such things as the sides of foyer balconies and stairs needing to be secure but not obstructing the free flow of space, he developed that then not common idea of the transparent glazed balustrade with a most elegant system. Thus these new interior spaces became of immense importance in relation to the general layout. The different types were visually connected and, through transparency, could be appreciated in all directions.

One can never forget the sadness of Peter Moro's death. But as Hope Bagenal then once said: 'What is important is that this continuing work on the Royal Festival Hall will produce 'a home for the mind and for the imagination',' and that is indeed exactly what Peter Moro achieved.

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