Published  04/10/2001

South Bank, underneath the arches

South Bank, underneath the arches

… we while the time away. Well, it has taken several months in fact to appoint an architect in line with architect Rick Mather’s excellent Master Plan on London’s South Bank. That was two years ago. Then an architectural competition was organised, for the commission to design the planned new auditorium on Jubilee Gardens, complementing Sir Leslie Martin’s famous l950s masterpiece, the Festival Hall. Two joint winners were appointed, and then, somehow, the Board knocked their heads together. Not wise. Perhaps the real paralysis has been (as is usual) due to financial uncertainties, and the odd smokescreen by the board. The idea of selling a slice of the site to the Aga Khan, no less, for a 70 million Islamic Centre seems this month of all, to have gone strangely mute. Now the planning deadlines are also missed with no chance of the hoped for 2002 start.

Perhaps architect David Chiperfield — one of the original participants in the competition — and now architect to the British Film Institute for their neighbouring expansion can pull it all together, and fit in with Mather’s promising vision. But time is of the essence, this time.

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