South Bank Centre revamp gives it a welcome fresh look ahead of 75th anniversary

The Southbank Centre has unveiled its new contemporary cafe, bar, shop and welcome desk in the Grade I listed Royal Festival Hall.

The result, those behind it say, is a much more welcoming look in the Level 2 Foyer ahead of the centre’s 75th anniversary in 2026.

Proud of its role as a heritage building welcoming audiences since 1951, the modern upgrade “ensures its foyer remains a place for everyone to enjoy in the years to come,” according to officials.

Susan Johnston, chief operating officer of the Southbank Centre, said: “Since the Open Foyer Policy in 1983, when the Royal Festival Hall opened its foyers to welcome the public all day, the Southbank Centre has been a creative, cultural and social space.

“As we prepare to celebrate the Royal Festival Hall’s 75th anniversary, we wanted to modernise the foyer of this iconic heritage building to give visitors and artists the best possible experience.

“We’ve reconfigured the space to create a more accessible open foyer and enhanced the retail and catering on offer to ensure we remain at the heart of the cultural and public life of the South Bank.”

The new festival bar and kitchen will overlook the Riverside Terrace and the Thames. Finished in materials that are sympathetic to the original interiors with key features including walnut veneers and fluted glass dividing walls, the new bar, run by Company of Cooks, will include local craft beers and introduce a menu of signature sourdough pizzas.

There will be a new bakery and pizza-making station using fresh, sustainably locally-sourced ingredients.

The Ballroom Cafe will face the Clore Ballroom, bringing the daytime eatery into the heart of the building. A brand new bakery and prep kitchen have been built and the Cafe will also be used as a bar in the evening, reducing audience queue times.

The new welcome desk is solid walnut to complement the adjacent bars and cafe. It combines a streamlined ticket office and welcome desk, easily accessible and visible to visitors from multiple entrances.

The Royal Festival Hall shop will move from the east side of the Royal Festival Hall to the west side, returning the space to its original 1950s open foyer design.

The open-plan format consists of free-standing walnut veneer and bronze furniture. There will be a dedicated children’s area too. The shop will open in early June.

Pictured top: A montage of images showcasing the new look at the Royal Festival Hall (Pictures: South Bank Centre)







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