London’s Royal Festival Hall is in the throes of a major renovation programme, which looks set to bring significant opportunities for designers.
Architect Allies and Morrison and an as-yet unappointed contractor will be responsible for the £71m internal refurbishment, most of which kicks off in July 2005, although outside designers are likely to be brought in to create new retail and dining elements. ‘Those areas will be developed by designers, possibly ours or those taken on by the contractors doing the restaurant and retail operations,’ says South Bank Centre project director Ian Blackburn. He adds that such schemes are ‘a long way down the line’.
Blackburn says the renovation is ‘about rediscovering the clarity of the 1951 building, releasing more space for arts use and meeting modern visitors’ requirements’.
The project will encompass a revamp of the building’s foyers to improve access and to reinstate the original Riverside CafÃ© and the Hayward Gallery-facing Waterloo Doors.
The auditorium will also receive a major facelift, with the aims of upgrading acoustics and stage and technical facilities, as well as increasing visitor comfort.
Additional shops and dining areas will be introduced along the building’s level-one terrace, with work scheduled to begin here from next month.
Meanwhile, South Bank Centre head of public affairs Sue Rose confirms that the Royal Festival Hall intends to review its identity. ‘Not at this stage – right now it’s about the refurbishment of the building – but, ultimately, yes,’ she says.