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|Royal Festival Hall|
The Royal Festival Hall from Golden Jubilee Bridge, during reopening celebrations
|Country||England, United Kingdom|
|Coordinates||51°30′21.01″N 00°07′00.44″W / 51.5058361°N 0.1167889°W / 51.5058361; -0.1167889|
|Construction started||1948 (18 months to complete)|
|Inaugurated||3 May 1951|
|Cost||GBP £2 million (1951)|
|Renovation cost||GBP £111 million (2007)|
|Design and construction|
|Client||London County Council|
|Owner||London County Council (1951-1965),|
Greater London Council (1965-1986)
Arts Council (1986-1988),
Southbank Centre Limited (1988-present)
The Royal Festival Hall is a 2,500-seat concert, dance and talks venue within Southbank Centre in London. It is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames, not far from Hungerford Bridge. It is a Grade I listed building, the first post-war building to become so protected (in 1981). The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra each perform the majority of their London concerts in the hall.
The hall was built as part of the Festival of Britain for London County Council, and was officially opened on 3 May 1951. When the Greater London Council (LCC's successor) was abolished in 1986, the Hall was taken over by the Arts Council. Since the late 1980s the hall has operated an 'open foyers' policy, opening up the substantial foyer spaces to the public throughout the day, even if there are no performances. This has proved very popular and the foyers are now one of the most used public spaces in London.
The closest tube stations are Waterloo and Embankment.
The foundation stone was laid in 1949 by Prime Minister Clement Attlee on the site of the former Lion Brewery, built in 1837. The building was constructed by Holland, Hannen & Cubitts and officially opened on 3 May 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain. The original plan was that Arturo Toscanini would conduct the opening concerts, he was replaced by Sir Malcolm Sargent and Sir Adrian Boult. The first general manager was T. E. Bean.
The Festival's commissioning architect (Hugh Casson) took the decision to appoint only young architects. The resulting design of the hall is Modernist, as created by Leslie Martin, Robert Matthew and Peter Moro from the LCC's Architects' Department; Martin was 39 when he was appointed to lead the design team in late 1948. Martin designed the structure as an 'egg in a box', a term he used to describe the separation of the curved auditorium space from the surrounding building and the noise and vibration of the adjacent railway viaduct.
The building was substantially altered in 1964 by adding the foyers and terraces to the river side of the building and more dressing rooms to the rear. Alterations to the façades overlooking the river removed the Scandinavian Modernism of the building's primary public face in favour of a plainer and hard-edged style. The building's original entrance sequence was much compromised by these changes and the later additions of raised concrete walkways around the building to serve the neighbouring Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and The Hayward, built in 1967/8.
The building underwent a substantial renovation between 2005 and 2007 aimed at improving the poor acoustics and building layout. The interior of the concert hall space was almost entirely intact until this re-modelling, which saw its stage canopy and walls rebuilt in plainer more rectangular forms. This was carried out in the face of opposition from conservationists, led by the Twentieth Century Society.
During the 2000s a row of seven commercial units was added on the river side of the hall with offices upstairs and shops were added inside the hall. The venue officially reopened to the public in June 2007. The refurbishment was estimated to cost in the region of £91 million. A film has been made documenting the refurbishment, entitled This Is Tomorrow; it is directed by Paul Kelly and produced by Andrew Hinton.
A large head and shoulders bust of Nelson Mandela (by Ian Walters, 1985) stands on the walkway between the hall and Hungerford Bridge approach viaduct. Originally made in glass-fibre it was repeatedly vandalised until re-cast in bronze.
The Festival Hall appeared in the 1956 Jack Hawkins film The Long Arm.
The Royal Festival Hall undergoing restoration work, July 2005
Seen from the River Thames, October 2010
Seen from Victoria Embankment, June 2011
Southbank Centre aerial view (Royal Festival Hall in Centre), July 2007
Royal Festival Hall terraces, February 2008
Westerly corner showing riverside facade, August 2008
North-western facade at night with the London Eye and Palace of Westminster upriver, November 2009
North-western facade at dusk with the London Eye and Palace of Westminster, October 2008
Rear facade at night seen from Concert Hall Approach, March 2010
Rear facade from the Hayward Gallery during restoration, May 2007
Illuminations over Festival Terrace, January 2010
Illuminations over Festival Terrace, December 2010
Inside the Concert Hall, November 2009
Royal Festival Hall (bottom left) from the London Eye, July 2008
Walking through the Appearing Rooms fountain installation, by Danish artistJeppe Hein, outside the RFH during reopening celebrations after 2007 refurbishment.
- ^ McKean, John (2001). Architecture In Detail: Royal Festival Hall. New York: Phaidon Press Ltd. ISBN 0-7148-4160-9.
- ^ RFH.co.uk
- ^ The Guardian, 13 October 1949 on the laying of the foundation stone]
- ^ Cubitts 1810 - 1975, published 1975
- ^ The Festival of Britain - Building the Future, accessed 1 April 2007
- ^ The Times, 21 November 1950, p. 6
- ^ The Times, 5 05 May 1951, p. 4
- ^ Jefferson, Alan(ed) (1979). Sir Thomas Beecham. London: Macdonald and Jane's. p. 103. ISBN 0-354-04205-X.
- ^ 
- Southbank Centre website (Bookings for RFH, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and The Hayward)
Coordinates: 51°30′21.01″N 00°07′00.44″W / 51.5058361°N 0.1167889°W / 51.5058361; -0.1167889
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