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Southbank Centre

Southbank Centre (63)

Measuring 85,000 square metres and with more than 3 million visitors per year, the Southbank Centre forms an insuperable complex of artistic centres. The three main buildings that make it up are the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and The Hayward.

Situated next to the Thames, very close to Waterloo Bridge, this metropolitan arts centre is captained by the Royal Festival Hall. This concert hall, which has been recently restored, has a capacity for 3,000 people and is one of the best-known in the world. Designed in 1951 by Robert Matthew and Leslie Martin for the Festival of Britain, which commemorated the 100 years of the International Exhibition, it was a symbol of the reconstruction of the country after the Second World War. It has seen performances ranking from the orchestra conductor Georg Solti to the heavy metal group Motörhead.

With a capacity for 900 spectators, the Queen Elizabeth Hall is also a concert hall. It focuses its activity on opera, chamber music and dance. It was built in 1967 and, for the use of austere materials and powerful shapes, is a clear example of Brutalist architecture. This hall has another two smaller-capacity adjoining spaces, the Purcell Room and The Front Room.

The Hayward, in contrast, is an exhibition centre. Despite not housing a permanent collection, it does put on spectacular temporary exhibitions, focused mainly on the sphere of contemporary art. Just like the Queen Elizabeth Hall, this structure, built in 1968 by young architects such as Dennis Crompton, Warren Chalk or Ron Herron constitutes a clear example of Brutalism, and due to its appearance is equally loved and hated by Londoners. 

Southbank Centre also organises debate and literature cycles, and houses an interesting art shop, part of one of the largest poetry libraries in the United Kingdom. We could say that it is a modern paradise for music, performance, the word, dance and the visual arts. 

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