The £ 115m refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall in London was unveiled this week and will be open to the public June 8 The regulations were developed by the Department of London County Council architects for the Festival of Britain in 1951 and was one of the few large open spaces that meet to be built in the first half of the twentieth century. Architecturally it was a success but it has been compromised by poor acoustics and these fundamental errors have impeded the hall since its opening. History has shown that acoustic technology had not evolved far enough when the FHR was built. The engineers had understood the basics of acoustic principles and understand the characteristics required for a beautiful concert space, but the designers did not have the same wealth of data needed to apply the principles of a specific design. Another decade and the result would have been different.
More than £ 40 million of the total project cost was spent on a new auditorium. The 2788 by Robin Day seats were reupholstered and receive a few extra inches in leg room. The original 1951 carpet was designed by Peter Moro and Leslie Martin and it covers all households, an auditorium and numerous other areas around the building. It does however suffer significant wear and over the years. It has now been exactly reproduced by the manufacturers of Wilton. The other major element of the revision was the removal of myriad offices that had grown at the periphery of the building block to a new chip called the “liner” which runs along the track. The reclaimed areas have been lovingly brought into the area of public space, vital areas of contemporary performance. A new Conran restaurant called Skylon echoes the style of the original 1950 Royal Festival Hall overlooking the Thames is sure to be a success. (It is named after the famous metal sculpture which has become an iconic 1951 Festival of Britain.)