Barbican’s Rattle Hall concept revealed

The detailed design concept for London's £288m Centre for Music - nicknamed “Rattle Hall” after the music director of the London Symphony Orchestra which will be resident there – has been revealed.

Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the centre would house a 2,000-seat concert hall, spaces for performance, education and rehearsal, and flowing public areas.

Standing on the site of the Museum of London, which is to move to West Smithfield in 2023, the centre would be run by the Barbican, allowing the arts centre to significantly expand its programme across all genres. It would be the home of the London Symphony Orchestra and the base for the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s new Institute for Social Impact.

The concept sees the competition of a “Culture Mile running northwards from Tate Modern past St Paul’s Cathedral to the Barbican with the area around the centre turned into a pedestrian area in accordance with the Corporation of London’s planning.

“We want to unlock the urban potential of the Centre for Music's site at the southern tip of the Barbican by reclaiming the roundabout for the public realm, where the car’s isolating effects are keenly felt today” said Elizabeth Diller, the lead architect in the scheme. “A vital public space seamlessly connects to the foyer and extends a welcome to everyone, with or without a performance ticket.
“The foyer would be abuzz day and night, filled with activity and glimpses into the inner life of the Hall. We imagine a concert hall for the 21st century that embraces both a bespoke and a loose fit approach: tailored for exceptional symphonic sound, yet agile enough to accommodate creative work across disciplines and genres.”


Plans for the Centre for Music have been controversial, with Sir Simon Rattle denouncing London‘s lack of a world class concert hall before his appointment to the LSO. It was initially supported by the promise of Treasury start-up funding but this was withdrawn after the 2017 general election and the Corporation stepped in, and has now pledged a further £2.49m to the next development stage. The new centre is expected to open in about 2030.

“We believe in music. We believe in London. We believe in the power of music to transform people’s lives. And more importantly than anything else, we believe it is for everybody” Rattle said yesterday. “Talent for music, love for music has never been anything to do with the ability to play, to hear or learn. It is every child’s birthright. 

“The idea that there can be a new cultural centre in London, in Culture Mile, and that in the middle of it a truly great international, modern concert hall of our time, equipped for everything of this age, is very exciting. A sign of London as a dynamic cultural city, at a time when we are going to need this more and more.”


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