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Thursday, 17 February, 2000, 16:35 GMT
New look for South Bank

south bank Present view from the London Eye


London's South Bank arts complex could get a complete face lift under proposals launched on Thursday.

The area along a stretch of the Thames between Embankment and Westminster is known for its 1960s' brutalist architecture and concrete walkways.

Artists impression Even the weather is better: How the South Bank could look
The complex, which includes the National Film Theatre, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Hayward Gallery and the National Theatre, is recognised to be in need of modernisation.

If the latest proposal for redevelopment goes ahead, some of the buildings, including the stark slabs of the Hayward Gallery, would stay - but others may be razed to the ground.

The draft scheme for the area, revealed by planner Rick Mather, could involve tearing down the Queen Elizabeth Hall concert venue.

Plans for the 30-acre Thames-side site also include an expanded park area - below which is a brand-new concert hall - and a new base for the British Film Institute.

Work underway

Mather's is the third major scheme to be put forward to give the site a makeover. The two previous attempts, including a plan by Lord Rogers for a huge glass wave covering the whole area, both fell by the wayside.

Hayward gallery Concrete future: Hayward would stay
Some work is already under way. The raised concrete walkways around the Hayward are slowly being chipped away and the Museum of the Moving Image building is no longer in use and will eventually be knocked down.

Under Mather's plan, architects will be asked to enter a competition to suggest what should take their place. A decision will then be taken on whether the QE Hall should stay.

The Hayward will be refitted and a new entrance at street level created.

Jubilee Gardens


QE Hall Queen Elizabeth Hall would be razed
Just a few yards away, the Royal Festival Hall is being refurbished at a cost of between 40m and 50m, with the acoustics and interior being improved, to form the first part of the scheme.

At Jubilee Gardens - next to the London Eye - a three-storey landscaped park will be created with the underground concert venue.

The BFI's new centre will stand alongside, housing the National Film Theatre, the Museum of the Moving Image and the BFI's national library.

Further underground developments beneath the park may also be considered for organisations such as the National Film and Television School.

Mather's ideas - a result of consultations with the local community, audiences and artists - are also designed to create greater access and movement between the many venues in the area.

The designer said: "We now have the opportunity to create one of the most exciting and welcoming arts quarters in the world."

'Exciting opportunity'

Up to 25 million could be available from the Arts Council of England for the arts side of the plan, while the Heritage Lottery Fund has in principle agreed to commit 12.5 million to some of the Royal Festival Hall work.

Elliott Bernerd, Chairman of South Bank Centre, said Mr Mather's plans were pragmatic and deliverable.

plans Plans show a modernised South Bank
"He has synthesised the needs of artists and arts audiences with the desires of the local community, and visitors for more open spaces and better access.

"The masterplan combines our vision for world class arts facilities with the opportunity to provide the best of architecture, urban design and landscape," he said.
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See also:
08 Feb 00 |  UK
Thoroughly modern Tate
11 Jun 99 |  Entertainment
Big-movie moment for Charles
21 Jul 99 |  Entertainment
Festival Hall set for revamp
08 Dec 98 |  UK
South Bank overhaul

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