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Speed of new London concert hall plans compared to 'going over Niagara Falls'

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‘This has all moved so fast. It is like going down Niagara Falls in a barrell’

That is how conductor Simon Rattle describes the precipitous pace of plans to create a major new concert hall in London.

Rattle, currently director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, is to return to Britain in 2017 to become music director of the London Symphony Orchestra and is a leading proponent of the scheme.

He has already won the backing of chancellor George Osborne, who has declared that a new venue could bring ‘significant artistic, educational and economic benefits’ to the capital. Osborne has requested a feasibility study for the new venue, which will be led by Nicholas Hytner, departing director of the National Theatre.

A number of sites have been mooted, including the current home of the Museum of London in the Barbican Centre, the plot currently occupied by the road tunnel under the Barbican, and the Olympicopolis site in Stratford.

Speaking about the plans to The Guardian, Rattle said: ‘Watch this space.The music lovers of London and the country deserve to have something where orchestras can flourish. You have no idea how wonderful an orchestra like the London Symphony Orchestra can sound in a great concert hall.’

Last month the AJ listed six possible contenders who could be in the running to design the new concert hall:

The early runners and riders:

  • DRDH - newcomers to the concert hall-building scene, but already have the über-impressive, acoustically superb Bodø building in Norway under their belt. Time to give them a similar chance in the UK?

    DRDH's Stormen library and concert hall in Bodo, Norway

  • Haworth Tompkins - RIBA 2014 Stirling Prize winners and consummate professionals. The practice’s jaw-dropping back catalogue includes the Young Vic, Royal Court Theatre and mould-breaking Everyman in Liverpool.

    GVA Acuity's Everyman Theatre at night

  • Bennetts Associates - theatre stalwarts whose Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford was a Stirling Prize contender in 2011. Masters at re-jigging existing venues.

    Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres

    Source: Peter Cook

  • Zaha Hadid Architects - Always one for the big occasion, Hadid has form in the centrepiece concert hall commission having polished off the glistening Guangzhou Opera House in 2010.

    Guangzhou Opera House, by Zaha Hadid Architects

  • Hopkins - The nearly 40-year-old practice has proved it can do venues. Glyndebourne Opera house (1994) and the Olympic Velodrome (2012) spring to mind. A safe pair of hands.
  • Frank Gehry - The 85-year-old American starchitect is still going strong and could more than handle designing a London showstopper to match the mirrored magic of his Walt Disney Concert Hall (2003) in Los Angeles.

    Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles


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