London Is Getting A Striking New Concert Hall, And Here’s Your First Look

Alex Landon Alex Landon - Editor

Centre for Music

The Centre for Music is slated to take over the Museum of London’s current spot.

PLEASE NOTE: As of February 2021, this project has been cancelled by the City of London.

It’s all change over in the City of London. We recently revealed what the skyline will look like in 2026, and now a new development in the area has taken another stride forward. The London Centre for Music, a world-class concert hall that’s set to open in the Barbican Estate, has been given a boost with the release of a whole host of concept designs, aiming to show what this new music venue will look like. Based on first impressions, we think this could be an impressive addition to the capital. (See our full list of upcoming gigs and concerts in London.)

Centre for Music
An external view of the twistyboi, showing the ziggurat design and the surrounding public plaza.

A joint venture between The Barbican, the London Symphony Orchestra, and Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Centre for Music aims to revolutionise the London classical music scene. Envisaged as the UK’s answer to the dramatically modern Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, the grand, twisting structure (known in architecture parlance as a ziggurat) would be a world-leading site for music performance and education, sitting right in the heart of London. (See also: first images of London’s ‘Crystal Ball’ arena.)

Centre for Music
Inside the main plaza.

The Centre for Music will feature a 2000-seat main hall, in which the audience would surround the orchestra, clustered in pockets of seating. The steep-sided venue, which is set to feature breakout spaces for musicians to perform amongst the audience, is designed to make the best possible use of acoustics and thus provide the richest aural experience.

Centre for Music
The main concert hall.

Designed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who designed the Manhattan High Line and have also had a hand in the V&A East development, the building hides a few more goodies. Four floors of commercial space, a destination restaurant, and a second performance space – this one a more intimate affair offering views of St Paul’s Cathedral – will all be used to lure in visitors. The grand plan is for the Centre for Music to lie at the northern point of a ‘Culture Mile’, stretching down the to Tate Modern and including the likes of Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s.

Centre for Music
This envy-inducing view of St Paul’s is likely to be a major draw.

Standing in the way of the Centre for Music’s progress are a couple of obstacles. Firstly, there’s the pesky fact that the site it will occupy is currently being used by the Museum of London – and whilst the museum will relocate slightly to West Smithfield, it’s unlikely to be in its new home until 2023, thus delaying construction of the Centre. Perhaps more crucially, the cost of building a world-class music venue is put at £288 million, which the founders aim to raise through private donation. The development will require the partial pedestrianisation of the Barbican roundabout and relocating a major road, which, given the problems that befell Oxford Street, is no easy feat. And finally, the name isn’t even set in stone, as the necessity of raising all that dollar may include giving away the naming rights.

Centre for Music
An open, public-facing space, the Centre for Music aims to inspire a new generation of music-lovers.

Still, it the stars align and it all comes together, we’ll have a swish new spot to listen to Bach and Strauss… sometime in the indistinct future. Music to my ears!

All images courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Also published on Medium.