Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre
Queen Elizabeth Hall, located in London's South Bank, is a famous music venue. It regularly presents a variety of dance and music performances, ranging from classical to more modern productions, and first opened in 1967 with a concert conducted by Benjamin Britten. The hall is a key part of Southbank arts complex which sits beside the Royal Festival Hall and Hayward Gallery. Higgs and Hill built the venue along with the Purcell Room; QEH occupies the site of a previous shot tower.
Queen Elizabeth Hall - The Auditorium
Queen Elizabeth Hall can accommodate more than 900 visitors. The Purcell Room is in the same building, offering around 360 seats. The exterior of QEH does not feature much decoration and instead gives more focus to its interior. The building housing the auditorium is separate from the foyer, with the back of the stage parallel to Waterloo Bridge.
The hall's acoustic properties are brilliant. In fact, in 1968, engineers and music critics rated them excellent after thorough testing, adjustments and trials. The venue underwent several adaptations and modifications, which involved improving the stage size and installing an additional range of lights that enable hosting performances in vivid colours.
The foyer building's interior uses fewer materials than the performance areas. Some argue that artificial partitions - added because the focus had shifted to offering smaller spaces for different activities throughout the day in the 2000s - took away the 1960s charm of the space. During the building's renovation between 2016 and '18, the foyer underwent extensive refurbishment, allowing better access to visitors. There are two entrances to the foyer – the main is adjacent to the Royal Festival Hall terrace's north end; it has a brutalist design. The other is a smaller entrance at ground level for visitors with vehicles or those coming from the car park.
A plan to reconstruct or replace Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room with two new auditoriums of 1,100 seats each was pitched between 2005 and '06. One of the auditoriums would stage classical music. At the same time, the other would be the stage for contemporary dance and amplified music. The project didn't progress amid concerns regarding serious structural changes due to site limitations and proximity to the Royal Festival Hall. So, when the proposals were put forward in 2013 for the Festival Wing scheme, it didn't bear fruit.
However, between 2015 and '18, the entire 60s' complex including the Hayward Gallery, Purcell Room and Queen Elizabeth Hall underwent full internal renovation. The renovations followed designs by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. A £10 million grant from the Arts Council helped implement the project; the remaining amount was sponsorships and private donations. It improved access, lighting systems, and ventilation. The project also included brand new infrastructure for production, which greatly enhanced the experience for both performers and audiences.