On 30 September, in an effort to find out more about CFT’s standing within the architectural world Becky (Heritage Activities Officer), Katie (Community Apprentice) and I went on a very special tour of several buildings on the Southbank.
The Southbank Centre and the National Trust ran a week of Brutal Utopias tours which took visitors around the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery all of which are, like CFT, 1960s Brutalist buildings. These three spaces are now entering the process of being restored and refurbished, much like our own Theatre building through the RENEW project, and lay dormant the week of the tours before building work got started. With the spaces empty the two organisations came together to give exclusive tours of areas of the buildings never before open to the public, and other parts that will change in the process of the site’s two-year refurbishment. Continue reading “Brutal Utopias”→
Writing in 1986, Leslie Evershed-Martin reflected on the Festival Theatre Building; the strengths and weaknesses of its design and the reactions and perceptions people held about it. The below extract comes from his book The Miracle Theatre (1986:p33).
‘Over the years there have been many amusing descriptions applied to the look of the building. Correspondents have vied with one another in their inventiveness and the following are some of the examples:-
– “An enormous home plate in a tight little ball pitch.”
Concrete is the single most widely used material in the world and was fundamental to the construction of the Festival Theatre. To explore and share the significance of this material to the Theatre, we ran our very own concrete- making workshop earlier this year.
Prior to starting as the first Heritage Trainee of Pass It On earlier this year, I had never really thought all that much about concrete. I was vaguely aware of concrete constructions nearby; indeed the infamous Tricorn Centre loomed large as a landmark of days out in Portsmouth until its demolition in 2004. Nevertheless, voted by Radio 4 listeners as the most hated building in Britain and described by Prince Charles as “a mildewed lump of elephant droppings”, this didn’t do much to raise my awareness or appreciation of concrete as a building material.
As Chichester Festival Theatre has been tucked away behind hoardings undergoing its intense period of restoration and improvement, we at Pass It On have been charged with providing the public with as much access to, and information about, what’s going on back there as possible. To this end, over the course of this summer we ran a short series of lunch time tours around the hoardings with RENEW Project Architect, Lucy Picardo.
On three sunny afternoons between July and September, 15 lucky people spent 45 minutes with Lucy talking them through the works taking place, catching glimpses of various aspects of the project through the windows in the hoardings before ending up on first floor level platform overlooking the site.