Images of a planned revamp of the Southbank Centre emerged earlier today.
The Sixties-era complex, which comprises the Hayward Gallery, Purcell Rooms and Queen Elizabeth Hall, is the subject of a £120 million refurb. The scheme, by Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios, is dominated by a large new glazed pavilion, while much of the existing Brutalist architecture is disguised with glazing and greenery. There’s also a new glass block that extends along the side of Waterloo bridge, which will house cultural programmes, while around 20% of the new space will be given to retail units..
While conservative groups may kvetch at the update, the Southbank Centre is in need of it. Sandwiched between Royal Festival Hall (itself sensitively redeveloped a few years ago) and the National Theatre, which is getting a refurb of its own, the Southbank has long seemed a complex lacking in an identity of its own; the director, Jude Kelly, called it a “Cinderella space”. The revamp, which will see it dubbed Festival Way, should make it a more significant cultural destination. But there will be casualties: the skateboard and graffiti park will be moved to beneath the Hungerford Bridge, with shops and restaurants filling the space, while all three buildings would close for three years during construction work.
The proposal will go out for consultation in the spring. A public exhibition of the plans will go on display at Royal Festival Hall later this week.