Case Studies

Royal Festival Hall

Spatial accessibility

"I know that these techniques work from the tough environment of practice. I love the world of analysis, observation, of research, but also passion, imprecision, the hunch. Space Syntax is the testing of the interaction of these opposing worlds."

Norman Foster

Context

The architecture of the Royal Festival Hall has offered openness and accessibility to the public since its opening in 1951. The foyer allows the visitor the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities, both cultural and social. Since its conception, the building, the urban context, and the overall mission of the arts facility, have gone through a series of changes. As a result, the Southbank Centre commissioned Allies and Morrison to redesign the building and Rick Mather Architects to masterplan the area. The new design had to address various and, at times, conflicting briefs to successfully accommodate a complex new programme while maintaining its openness and continuing to provide a world-class cultural experience.

Methodology

  • observations of pedestrian flows in the surrounding areas
  • spatial accessibility analysis
  • visibility analysis of public space
  • option testing and evaluation
  • evidence-based design advice

Findings and outcome

Working alongside the Southbank Centre and the design team, we provided an initial analysis of the spatial properties of the building and its surroundings. We were able to show what made the building work and to identify its shortcomings. We then used our model as a design tool to test and inform the design. Our work was also used in stakeholder presentations, workshops and design reviews.

We provided diagnosis and strategic design advice that was implemented by the architects. We are currently advising the SBC on workplace strategy and the design of office components of the building. The new building and its public realm will continue to provide a rich cultural experience for the city.