Leon Krier’s classical alternative proposal for London concert hall causes a stir

Architecture International Urbanism
(Courtesy Leon Krier)

(Courtesy Leon Krier)

Pioneer of Poundbury—a traditional British town built in South West England in 1993—Leon Krier is once again rebelling against the architectural orthodoxy. This time, Krier is attacking the latest proposal for London‘s concert hall, the new home for the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) by Regent’s Park, with his own scheme composed with traditional design.

(Courtesy Leon Krier)

(Courtesy Leon Krier)

As a counter to relocation of the hall, set to cost $500 million, Krier has put forward his own plan that would see the concert hall be part of a new public square. His scheme would lay near and compliment the architectural style of John Nash’s Park Crescent.

Writing in Future Symphony, Krier was far from complimentary of the current state of affairs regarding contemporary theatre and concert hall architecture. An as “attendant of innumerable classical concerts, it is not the ravishing beauty of the music but the ghastliness of the Southbank and Barbican concert halls and surroundings which leaves the most enduring, albeit painful, imprint on my mind,” he seethed.

(John Nash's Park Crescent Courtesy Wikipedia)

(John Nash’s Park Crescent Courtesy Wikipedia)

Neither was he favorable of the current planned location for new concert hall, the (soon former) Museum of London designed by Powell & Moya adjacent to the Barbican.

Krier, a former associate of James Stirling and friend of HRH Prince Charles, said London was at risk of more post-war “soul-crushing, inhumane… loathsome aliens.” He advised planners should “take a step back and consider just what were the mistakes of the halls we now need to replace” and “what should be done differently” to form “a truly accessible and enduring home for the London Symphony.”

The proposed venue (Courtesy Wikipedia)

The proposed venue (Courtesy Wikipedia)

In Krier’s eyes, a homage to the past would be both respectful to classical music, giving it the grandeur and classical physical presence it deserves. “John Nash’s laconic and elegant crescent buildings make a quiet urban backdrop for a grand architectural ‘cymbal stroke’ to resonate around London and the musical world: The London Music Forum, an inviting campus for everyone,” he went on to say.

(Courtesy Leon Krier)

(Courtesy Leon Krier)

His scheme would replicate the Vienna Musikverein and Amsterdam Concertgebouw halls in terms of both size and proportion. He also argued that “the architecture of the new forum’s buildings and paving should speak the elemental classical language with which John Nash so brilliantly set the stage in character and color. Any required 21st century technology can be elegantly embedded in the design.”

Krier’s retaliation comes amid the launching of a competition prompting proposals that would see Smithfield General Market turned into the new home for the Museum of London. Conductor Simon Rattle also proposed the idea of a new venue for the LSO, an idea which, according to BD, has seen many “politicians and cultural figures” jump on the idea of creating a “cultural quarter in the City.” Last May, the Conservative Party pledged to support a “modern world class concert hall for London” and provided $7.9 million to fund a business case for the project.

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