Architect: London County Council Architect's Department
Location: Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
The initial disdain for the Festival Hall was similarly felt for the new Hayward Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, when the aim of the complex to complement rather than compete with their predecessor was not immediately appreciated.
But the robust details and inherent utility have stood the test of time. The range of remarkable spaces, inside and out, has allowed for a degree of flexibility that none anticipated when they were built. The skateboard Mecca in the extraordinary undercroft, and the roof terraces becoming community gardens all help to add to the ‘cultural quarter’ – a phrase so frequently overused in regeneration circles – which now fits the wider South Bank.
The current good news is the announcement of a conservation project to address the £24m backlog of repairs to begin in late 2015. These repairs, rather than the grandiloquent and commercially oriented additions of the proposed Festival Wing, currently on hold, should allow the Centre to continue to flourish.
by David Heath
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