The Twentieth Century Society is bitterly disappointed with the latest decision not to list the Southbank Centre. Despite a rigorous recommendation by English Heritage, central government has again gone against their advice and refused to grant listed status to this important brutalist complex.
The decision follows an application for a Certificate of Immunity from the owners earlier this year which has now been granted. The Southbank Centre has applied to the Arts Council England for funding of £20 million towards the refurbishment and renewal of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery complex.
We have been in on-going consultation with the owners regarding future ambitions for the site and totally support their desire for an ever-changing range of innovative and temporary pop structures that encourage people to explore the buildings. However we would be concerned about major permanent massive extensions.
The Twentieth Century Society has repeatedly called for the listing of this ensemble, constructed by the LCC’s / GLC’s Architect’s Department between 1963 and 68. It sits in the Southbank Conservation Area, between the National Theatre (Grade II * listed) and Royal Festival Hall (Grade I listed).
The complex – an arts centre which includes the Purcell Rooms, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery – showcases some of the best and most important Brutalist architecture in the country. As well as being a distinguished complex in its own right, it also provides a coherent visual link between the two other listed buildings. It is ridiculous that the Southbank is not considered listable even at grade II.
This is the fourth time the complex has been rejected for listing. The international importance of the Southbank Centre has been recognised by the World Monuments Fund who added the complex to their 2012 “Watchlist” of endangered brutalist buildings in October last year.