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Feilden Clegg Bradley

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Controversial Plans for Southbank Centre Face New Challenges

00:00 - 14 November, 2013
Controversial Plans for Southbank Centre Face New Challenges, © Feilden Clegg Bradley
© Feilden Clegg Bradley

It's been almost two months since we revealed that the Southbank Centre had agreed to support a fundraising campaign by Long Live Southbank, the campaign aiming to preserve the skatepark in Southbank's undercroft and save it from the £120 million redevelopment of the site as a whole.

This was just one twist in a story that included criticism from the UK's design council CABE and from the neighboring National Theatre, a 50,000 strong petition from skateboarders, an unsuccessful attempt to have the skatepark listed as a village green, a successful attempt to have it classified as an 'asset of community value', and a delayed planning application.

So after all this controversy, what has happened in the last two months?

Controversy Reigns Over Southbank Centre

00:00 - 11 July, 2013
Controversy Reigns Over Southbank Centre, © Feilden Clegg Bradley
© Feilden Clegg Bradley

The Southbank Centre and Feilden Clegg Bradley have taken their designs back to the drawing board, deciding to delay their planning application in order to resolve the mounting issues surrounding the proposal.

The designs to update the brutalist cultural centre have divided people from the start; however, the tide of opinion seems to have definitively shifted away from the design due to a sustained campaign by skateboarders (who make use of the undercroft) and now criticism from the neighboring National Theatre and the UK design council CABE.

Read more about the controversy surrounding the Southbank Centre after the break...

Skaters Object to Southbank Centre Proposals

00:00 - 5 June, 2013
Skaters Object to Southbank Centre Proposals, © Feilden Clegg Bradley
© Feilden Clegg Bradley

The saga of the Southbank Centre redevelopment in London heated up recently, after the scheme for the new 'Festival Wing' was formally submitted to Lambeth's planning department. The scheme, which has been well received by some of the architecture community, including the centre's original architects Norman Engleback and Dennis Crompton, has run afoul of the skateboarding community, which opposes the plan to infill the undercroft that has been their home for almost 40 years.

After a petition to save the skatepark garnered over 40,000 signatures, the skating community has mobilized once again to object to the planning application en masse. The campaign to save the skatepark has even garnered the attention of skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, who wrote to the Southbank Centre's director of partnership and policy Mike McCart to explain that:

“It’s truly an historic feature of London street culture, and is as well known to skateboarders around the world as Big Ben or Buckingham Palace. Honestly.”

Why Skaters Need the Southbank Centre

00:00 - 21 May, 2013
Why Skaters Need the Southbank Centre, © joannapoe via Flickr. Used under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a>
© joannapoe via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons

Among the extensive discussion of Feilden Clegg Bradley's scheme to redesign the Southbank Centre in London, one issue which has sometimes been ignored by the architectural media has been the proposal to relocate the skate park in the under-croft of the Queen Elizabeth Hall to a space beneath the nearby Hungerford bridge.

Unsurprisingly, this decision has sparked a petition which has collected nearly 40,000 signatures to save one of the UK's most famous skating hotspots. We’ve talked about how skaters can teach architects about understanding space before; however, in this instance I would like to examine how skaters as a (sub)cultural entity interact with the city, and how the city can cater to their needs. Though many architects are already in favor of accepting skaters, I hope to explore why the wider community tends to see skating as a problem to be solved, and what this can reveal about the proposal at the Southbank Centre.

Read on to find out more about the peculiar way skaters experience cities