Vox Pop

The Royal Albert Hall in London is re-opening this week with a £70m refurbishment. Given the plethora of revitalised public buildings in the UK, what can it do to realise its aim of competing with global venues such as the Sydney Opera House?

‘The Royal Albert Hall – I haven’t been there for a long, long time, but I hope that the money spent has helped to weave something of the fabric of contemporary society into it. I remember it as the grand old dame that you got driven to at Christmas. It was a bit of a chore, however, I suppose you have to do it once a year. It will never be on a par with the Sydney Opera House till it can integrate a bit more and become more relevant. Sydney Opera House is surrounded with good reasons for paying it a visit: bars, restaurants, cafés, things that facilitate this like ferries, trains and an excellent car park. The Royal Albert Hall seems to turn its back on the hoi polloi, unless, of course, they were educated enough to go to the Last Night of the Proms. Oh and by the way, the fabulous view helps.’

Mark Landini, Director, Landini Associates, Sydney

‘How about drop the word ‘Royal’ from its title, get some programming which audiences could cut themselves on, and consign its history to the books. It’s a wasted opportunity to define a destination as the location of a building – destinations should be the location of new ideas. Do not be content with what you ARE. The only thing that is relevant today is what you DO.’

Scott Burnham, Creative director, Urbis

‘In a globalised world, great performance venues and museums are major engines of economic growth. But the only way the Royal Albert Hall will rival the Sydney Opera House is if we take an international approach and continue to promote vigorously London’s cultural assets in an international context.’

Professor Jack Lohman, Director, Museum of London

‘Yes it’s an interesting building, however, I don’t quite get it being a major destination to visit. What is unique about the Royal Albert Hall is the breadth of events that have happened there – from Jimi Hendrix to the Proms. It should aim to capture the spirit of people’s associations of those events and turn them into some tangible product, rather than simply relying on the venue itself.’

Callum Lumsden, Managing director, Lumsden Design Partnership

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