Royal Albert Hall Public Realm
- Categories Arts & Culture, Urban & Landscape
- Clients Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, Royal Albert Hall
- Project Team Deborah Saunt, Tom Greenall, John Zhang, Julia Baltsavía
The Royal Albert Hall is one of UK’s most beloved and visited buildings, and the busiest venue in the world, with 400 performances in the auditorium and over 1000 events beyond the main stage every year. Whilst it hosts the most extraordinary events and performances, from the Proms to red carpet premieres, the building itself had become an island marooned in a sea of tarmac, with a busy carriageway separating it from its namesake monument, the Albert Memorial, and London’s most important open green space, Hyde Park. These existing conditions did not offer the dignity nor the accessibility that artists, audiences, tourists and even local residents expect of such an internationally renowned venue.
DSDHA’s public realm vision seeks to transform the area into a rightful setting for the Royal Albert Hall, respectful of the axial order and character of Albertopolis, and to enhance site-wide connectivity and accessibility between the Hall, the Albert Memorial and Kensington Gardens. A new safe public space with step-free access will be created through a series of interventions, such as the meandering routes embedded in the soft landscaping of the South Steps, pavement widening in front of the North Porch, and the elimination of a historic triple-kerb condition along Kensington Gore. The initial phase of improvements was completed on the north side of the building in January 2022, delivered in collaboration Westminster City Council.
The proposals are built upon extensive research and analysis into the safety, movement and behaviour of users around the Hall, which revealed specific hotspots for photos – the Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial are two of London’s most visited and photographed monuments – areas of crowding and vehicular conflicts at performance arrival and departure times, and desire lines leading to and from the Hall. The research was enabled by the Research Fellowship awarded to Deborah Saunt by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 in February 2010. Awarded biennially, the Fellowship supported an intensive research programme to develop conceptual ideas and a long-term vision for the Commission’s legacy estate in South Kensington
Landscape Architect: Todd Longstaffe-Gowan
Planning Consultant: Allies & Morrison