Hg2 : The Hedonist

Southbank Centre

It’s arguable that the Southbank Centre’s concrete ‘carpark-itecture’ (aka Brutalism) is a strategy to repel the hordes of zombie tourists that invade the scenic Southbank for their dose of cultural things to do in London. For this is a no-frills, highbrow culture bunker built in 1951 to celebrate the Festival of Britain (an enterprise to kick-start British post-war culture), and now largely populated by London’s elite intelligentsia. Over some 21 acres are the Royal Festival Hall (now a Grade I-listed building – no doubt much to Prince Charles’ consternation, as an avowed architectural classicist), which hosts ballet, dance and gigs; the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room – smaller venues for dance, concerts, ‘live’ art and talks; and the Hayward Gallery, a fine arts and photography exhibition space; nearby are the independently managed National Theatre and National Film Theatre. All around are cultural phenomena, official and otherwise – there are free exhibitions and concerts in its open foyers, a skate park in the complex’s graffitied underbelly, secondhand book stalls huddled under Waterloo Bridge, and temporary sculptures variously dotted about. Plus those unwitting tourists – aka ‘live’ art, perhaps.

Belvedere Road, Southbank,
Central London,
+44 20 7960 4200
Opening Times
daily, 10am-10.30pm (times and costs vary for individual venues)
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