Earlier this month, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios released new images of the Southbank Centre, the most detailed renderings yet of the highly controversial redevelopment. Among the most significant alterations are a change to the exterior of the crowning glass box, a slight reduction in the size of the “liner” building (to preserve views of the Houses of Parliament from the neighboring National Theatre), and adjustments to various columns to preserve routes through the site.
Read on to find out more about the changes to the design..
Perhaps the most visible element of the scheme, the large rehearsal room perched atop the complex, is no longer fully glazed due to acoustic reasons. Instead, the rehearsal spaces themselves will feature a reflective cladding, while only the waiting areas in the lower floor of this box will be glazed.
Responding to complaints from the neighboring National Theatre, the liner building has been set back by 3 metres to preserve views of Westminster. FCB Studios have also responded to concerns voiced by the British Film Institute that the development will obscure their building, by adding an entrance to the BFI from the new Southbank Foyer.
Outside, structural columns have been adjusted to preserve important routes through the site. This includes the removal of one of the columns supporting the liner building, to give more space between the buildings and Waterloo Bridge, as well as the offset of the columns supporting the rehearsal box, in order to keep the existing route between the Hayward Gallery and the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
However, most of the most controversial features of the design remain in place: the design retains the commercial space that will occupy the existing skatepark, and Southbank Centre has not wavered on its plan to move the skaters to a purpose-built space nearby. Also, though the exterior of the rehearsal space has changed, its size and height have not – a key criticism from the 20th Century Society.
In an interview with BD, Peter Clegg and Ian Taylor defended their design, saying “the overall strategy remains fundamentally the same, but there are a number of things we think have enhanced the scheme compared with the original submission.”
In response to the criticisms their design has attracted, Clegg argued that “the Southbank Centre stands for exuberance and we are trying to capture that while also retaining the really courageous set of buildings from the 1960s. The more we work on those buildings the more we love them.”