South Bank icon shut since September 2015
The Hayward Gallery reopens this week after a £35m restoration by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.
The South Bank institution, designed by LCC architects some of whom went on to form Archigram, was shut nearly two and a half years ago, along with the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, to undergo a comprehensive refurbishment.
It reopens on Thursday in time for its 50th anniversary year with the first major retrospective in a UK institution of the work of German photographer Andreas Gursky.
The work was approved after a much more ambitious £120m redevelopment project by the architect (FCBS) was dropped, partly because of a campaign by skateboarders and partly because of objections to the scale of new buildings proposed.
The work that has just been completed includes behind-the-scenes repairs to deal with issues such as leaks and M&E upgrades. It has also involved careful restoration of the 1960s brutalist architecture and the creation of an accessible artists’ entrance by enclosing a small area of undercroft next to the Purcell Room.
The most visible aspect of the project was the replacement of the 66 pyramid roof lights which now let light into the Hayward’s upper galleries for the first time. The original roof lights leaked and a suspended ceiling did not control daylight satisfactorily.
New coffers have been installed, capped by a waterproof membrane and motorised blinds, which allows the new pyramids to be open on their north-facing sides, meaning views of the sky from the top galleries won’t be gradually occluded by layers of dirt.
A fundraising campaign called Let the Light In is still £400,000 short of its final target.
The Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room are not set to reopen until later in the year.