Festival Hall unveils its £15m makeover plans

London’s South Bank Centre this week revealed details of its planned refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall, following confirmation of a £15m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The regeneration of the whole site, including the building’s external fabric, entrances and linking stairways, is set to cost £54m and has been beset by delays.

But South Bank Centre chairman Lord Hollick says the HLF’s decision to increase its funding from £12m to £15m has enabled the groups involved to announce timetabled plans, with refurbishment due to be completed in 2006.

Much of the HLF funding will contribute to the refurbishment of the foyers on all levels, plus terraces and bars. Substantial improvements will also be made to cloakrooms and toilet areas, while the riverfront glazing and original fittings of the Grade

•listed building will be re-installed.

Architect Allies and Morrison will oversee the entire project, and is responsible for producing blueprints of interior designs, which it hopes to draw up next spring.

The architect’s in-house interiors division will handle much of the work, but it will also look to work with design groups, particularly lighting specialists.

‘It’s an unusual project in that it’s about interior design within a context,’ says Allies and Morrison partner Paul Appleton. He says the architect will be striving to hit a balance between ‘a contemporary feel within the spirit of the building’s heritage’. Aesthetics of the original fixtures and fittings will be preserved, down to the look of light fittings, carpets and colour schemes.

The SBC is now waiting on a potential £20m grant from the Arts Council, which will go towards refurbishing the auditorium, also to be handled by Allies and Morrison, in conjunction with Chicago-based acoustics expert Kirkegaard.

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