Royal Festival Hall London

London, Hall, Allies, Morrison

The Royal Festival Hall – the first important public building completed after the war – was inaugurated in 1951 during the Festival of -Britain. A team of young architects developed an “egg in the box” theme: the egg (the auditorium) hovers above the box, which houses bars, restaurants, etc.

Pictures: Allies and Morrison, London

This arrangement protected the auditorium from the noise and -vibrations emanating from the train and subway. With its spacious lobbies and a lively interplay of a variety of -colours, patterns, textures and painstaking detailing, the building does not let on to the fact that building materials were scarce. The architects themselves went down to the docks to secure the best materials from the most recent shipments.

Since the first renovation in the 1960s – in which, e.g., the facade facing the Thames was altered – the lobby has become increasingly cluttered with shops, cafes and offices. And the auditorium’s acoustics were problematic from the beginning, particularly for classical music.

For this refurbishment, which includes the Royal Festival Hall grounds, the clarity and openness of the original design were to be recovered. The client is seeking to create a well-frequented meeting place, not just for concert-goers, along the South Bank’s cultural mile. In order to reinstate the foyer’s spaciousness, the auxiliary programme had to be accommodated elsewhere: a slender bar along the railway line not only houses offices, shops and bars, it also conceals the delivery. Underneath the former pedestrian walkway along the Thames, more shops and restaurants are cloaked in a new glass facade. From here, two stairs – one in the building and one outdoors – lead to a large terrace in front of the concert hall. New pergolas above these stairs link the outdoor spaces facing onto the Thames.

For more see DETAIL 2007-11
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