Waking up to this admission of defeat by the South Bank Centre in a statement by their Chairman which you can read in full here.
For once it seems the pressure on the future election fate of Boris Johnson made him essentially freeze the scheme with his statement to support the skaters and making it clear that he would go against the planning proposals if he had to. You can read his statement from January 15th here.
Having been to the scant exhibition of the Festival Wing that was organised at the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall I was left unimpressed by both the architecture that looked bulky and far too dependant on eternal CAD sunshine to not look like it was engulfing the Hayward Gallery and the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Most of it would have been funded with a pre-crash economics model that assumed that the more chain restaurants and shops you built the more money you make. We all know where that got us in other parts of the economy…absolutely nowhere.
So on the back of this irritating PR bonanza, best exemplified by the brain-dead tweets of the “Soutbank for all” account, scroll at your leisure and have a laugh: https://twitter.com/southbankforall I am delighted that the organised fight of the skaters and the wider arts community in London has had this effect. The SBC plans were not radical in any way, they just planned dull architecture on top of the pre-existing structures. What is really needed is a proper rationalisation of the buildings on the site. The Royal Festival Hall and the Hayward Gallery are the only two buildings of merit, with most later additions made as need and money permitted and are either dysfunctional or in need of radical rethinking/reconstruction.
Let’s hope the management will properly listen next time and not try to white-wash the opposition by using pseudo inclusivity slogans and cute displays full of cheery coloured lego bricks and empty pads to jot down ideas. The reality was, that they presented a finished plan and they accepted no feedback on a project that would have changed this major arts complex to a major degree.
Let’s wait and see what their rethink results into…