The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Best Loved Element of Royal Festival Hall to be Destroyed: Canopy Will be Ripped Out for Uncertain Sound Improvement

The Southbank Centre has enjoyed a lot of positive press for its refurbishment proposals for the Royal Festival Hall but few people realize that this will include the removal of the magnificent plywood canopy.

Lambeth Planning Committee yesterday granted permission for Allies and Morrison’s scheme for the refurbishment of the Auditorium of the Grade I listed Royal Festival Hall. The scheme aims at improving the acoustics of the Hall. The architectural consequences of this are disastrous. The wooden canopy, a suspended structure of waving curves that leads the eye towards the stage and adds much to the warmth and material excellence of the space, will be replaced by three flexible, pale coloured and cloth covered panels* that do not respect the appearance of the space in any way. The argument for this replacement structure is a considerable improvement in the sound quality of the hall but the promised betterment is doubted by various high profile acousticians consulted by the Twentieth Century Society.

We vehemently object to this act of architectural vandalism to Britain ‘s greatest post-war building. We are shocked that Lambeth Council and English Heritage have supported this brutal intervention.

For further information please contact :
Alan Powers, Architectural Historian, Twentieth Century Society Trustee, 020 7387 3154
Catherine Croft, Twentieth Century Society, Director, 07808 168 489
Di Haigh, Allies and Morrison, 020 7921 0100
Les Brown, Lambeth Planning, 020 7926 1180
Michael Copeman, Lambeth Conservation Officer, 07931 542 826

Notes for editors

* The material for the covering is usually used for racing car drivers’ underwear