Although natural light in galleries is all the rage today, in the 1960s it was much less common. Daylighting was stipulated by the Arts Council for the upper galleries in the Hayward, reinforced by Trustee Henry Moore's demands for 'God's good daylight' in the building.
The 66 distinctive glass pyramids atop Hayward Gallery form one of the most striking features of the 1960s Southbank Centre. The serrated glass roofscape offers a material contrast to the concrete forms below, indeed the roof has acquired almost iconic status, an untouchable element of a site crammed with challenging architecture.
Daylight in the Galleries
In spite of the ingenious use of lighting baffles to provide indirect daylighting to the upper galleries, the glazed pyramids never quite delivered. Their thermal performance was poor and the fabric began to fail quite quickly. Over time, a number of more or less successful measures had been tried to manage the failings and enable the gallery to maintain the stable internal conditions required. The end result was artificially-lit galleries, far from the original intention.
A key aim of the project has thus been to restore this original intent to admit controlled natural daylight to the gallery spaces, together with greater environmental control to improve energy performance and reduce running costs. In addition, Southbank Centre asked us to provide views of the sky, a detail that had not been realised in the original design.
First, retain this important design element that is so integral to the image of Southbank Centre.
Second, realise the aspirations of the original brief by bringing daylight to the upper galleries.
Third, improve the roof’s environmental performance to achieve the conditions required for the loan of artworks and world-class touring exhibitions.
Replacing the pyramids became an urgent necessity.