The South Bank Centre: National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall, and Queen Elizabeth Hall

South Bank of the Thames River
London, United Kingdom

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

An uninviting complex of arts and performance spaces along the South Bank of the Thames.

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Why It Doesn't Work

No complex of public performance space could be more uninviting than this. We went buy these buildings four times on our last visit and we could not tell you what they were or what was going on in them, even after the fourth pass. All we know is that it is the center for skateboarders, and they provide some real entertainment.

The whole second level is a real mystery, and where you enter any of the facilities is also very hard to decipher. The potential for this complex fronting on the South Bank walk and the Thames River is extraordinary. Add the Shell Center, The London Eye and the Old County Hall (Saatchi Gallery, London Aquarium, Dali Universe) and you have a row of buildings that would compile the greatest entertainment stretch anywhere in the world. And it is across the river from Parliament and some of the most important public buildings in London. Awesome! We think that this stretch of the South Bank Walk is functioning at 20% of its capacity.

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