The first part of a new 20-year vision designed to secure the long-term future of London’s Royal Albert Hall has been opened to public consultation today.
The venue, which celebrates its 150th birthday in 2021, is one of Britain’s most beloved buildings, and hosts around 400 performances in its auditorium each year, from classical music to rock and pop, theatre, dance, comedy, circus and tennis.
Its new proposals are designed to improve accessibility and safety while restoring much of the magnificence of the setting by replacing generic ‘hostile vehicle mitigation’ barriers with more suitable security measures, limiting the amount of traffic around the site during performances, and uniting the building with Kensington Gardens and the Albert Memorial for the first time in its 148-year history through level access, a wider pavement and two crossing points.
Craig Hassall, Chief Executive of the Royal Albert Hall, said: “The Hall is one of the most beloved buildings in Britain, but the site is currently unbefitting a landmark of its stature. These plans will make it safer and more accessible. The new 20-year plan aims to ensure that the Hall provides a world-class experience for both artists and audiences, and continues to thrive for generations to come.”
The 20-year vision would also see the venue’s ground floor fully opened to daytime visitors, alongside improvements to toilets, baby-changing facilities and signage, and the restoration and refurbishment of all public spaces throughout the building.
Meanwhile, the ‘Great Excavation’ project, ongoing since August 2017, is creating a new basement in the south-west of the site, which will provide improved backstage facilities, including state-of-the-art dressing rooms and an artists’ bar.
The Royal Albert Hall is a registered charity held in trust for the nation’s benefit, and does not receive any government revenue funding. It is currently fundraising for these extensive improvements to preserve and enhance the Grade I listed building.
From 2021, the Hall will embark on a project to upgrade, restore and redecorate its public areas as part of an interior restoration.