Southbank Centre
In Brief

Southbank Centre


Project cost: 

April 2018

Southbank Centre, with its origins in the 1951 Festival of Britain, is one of the great democratic and imaginative buildings of the last century and holds a unique place in the London arts scene.

The restoration and redesign of Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery has given these unique 1960s Brutalist wonders a new lease of life and a low maintenance, lower energy future.

Whilst primarily a conservation project to replace building services, improve environmental performance and upgrade infrastructure, the revitalised building is now able to fully support an ever-widening artistic programme, and improve disabled access for audiences and artists. 

At the Hayward Gallery, the works reinterpret the iconic pyramid roof with a solution that allows controlled natural light back into the galleries, described by Henry Moore in the context of the new galleries as “God’s daylight”. Achieving this successful daylight was raised as “a matter of the utmost importance” by the Arts Council to the GLC in 1966 while the buildings were under construction and continues to be at the heart of the project.

The project was undertaken with the generous support of Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as trusts and foundations, individuals and Southbank Centre's friends.

Hayward Gallery

Hayward Gallery is a world renowned contemporary art gallery.

In time for its 50th birthday, essential restoration has taken place at Hayward Gallery to enable it to continue to present its programme of world-class exhibitions.

The building’s 66 iconic pyramid rooflights have undergone an adaptive redesign inspired by sculptor Henry Moore's call to "Let the light in", and now allow the galleries to be flooded by controllable natural light. 

Inside the galleries, new climate control, essential building services and digital infrastructure, have been installed, the terrazzo floors of the gallery replaced and the sculpture terraces repaved.

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"With Feilden Clegg Bradley's renewal of the Hayward, it's like getting a new art gallery. Its cleaned-up, robust exterior advances and recedes into the winter sun with new vigour."

Rowan Moore, The Observer

"This is a chance to finally fulfill what was supposed to always be the Hayward's character."

Ralph Rugoff, Hayward Gallery Director

"I am so glad that this has happened. That the Hayward is being respected."

Anthony Gormley, Artist
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QEH and Purcell Room

Opened in March 1967, The Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room are host to an incredibly diverse range of artistic performance. Our work was to redesign and upgrade the necessary infrastructure to improve the buildings for 21st century artists and audiences.

New glazing to the front corner of the reconfigured foyer allows light to flood in and celebrates the new connection to the riverfront. There is increased technical capacity throughout and the auditoria have been sensitively refurbished. Artists' facilities have been renovated with expanded dressing rooms, a new artist’s entrance and green room.

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"The musicians have been unanimous in saying that it is just so much more grateful a space to play in, it just feeds back to them in such a warm way. That is what we are after because the better the musicians feel on stage, the better the experience of the audience."

Gillian Moore, Director of Music at Southbank Centre

"It was with the greatest pleasure that we gave this concert, for many reasons. However, what I take away principally from the experience is the phenomenal and uniformly successful refurb and realisation of the new acoustic, which is sensational. An unqualified triumph!"

Colin Currie, Percussionist
A low energy future

New plant, modern controls, LED lighting, and production infrastructure delivers an invisible upgrade supporting Southbank Centre’s artistic programme.

In the Hayward Gallery, upgrades to the envelope and a new roof have improved thermal performance and brought controllable natural daylight into the upper galleries. The resulting more stable environmental conditions come with a 42% reduction in electricity use.

Original concrete and cast aluminium finishes across both buildings have been retained and refurbished to preserve their Brutalist uniqueness.

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Community Engagement

More than 28 million people walk past the buildings every year and Southbank Centre wanted to engage with every one of them. To better understand Southbank Centre’s needs and aspirations, the type of consultation exercises undertaken varied enormously. Ranging from monthly steering group meetings to in-depth briefing sessions with members of staff, to large-scale public exhibitions and high-level political presentations.

Our client considered this capital project to be as important as their day-to-day artistic undertakings, and therefore brought to it the same level of collaboration, imagination, and inclusiveness.

southbank centre public consultation
A Second Life
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A behind the scenes film at the Southbank Centre explaining why repair and redevelopment of the 1960s buildings are so vital.

Watch video
Selected Awards

2019 RIBA National Award

2019 RIBA London Award

2018 AJ Architecture Award Refurb (over £20m) 

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"The refurbished buildings celebrate the uniqueness of Southbank Centre and truly enhance the visitor and performer experience. The commitment of the client and architect to preserve and restore these buildings and their original features is to be applauded."

RIBA Awards Judges Citation

"The practice has succeeded brilliantly. This was a job with enormous implications for the public, but they got it right. Even the plant room is beautiful."

AJ Architecture Award, judges comments

Interior Architecture for Foyer Hospitality:
Archer Humphryes Architects
Cost Consultant & CDM: 
Gardiner & Theobald
Services Engineer & Environmental Consultant: 
Max Fordham 
Project Manager & Structural Engineer: Arup
Acoustic Consultant: 
Ramboll UK
Theatre Consultant:
Charcoal Blue / Southbank 
Fire Engineering:
The Fire Surgery
Planning Consultant:
Gerald Eve
Commissioning Engineers:
Building Regulations:
Approved Inspector Services
Main Contractor: BAM

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