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03 Apr 2008

Arts centre and visitor destination planned for London’s South Bank
BY Tom Walker

Detailed plans have been revealed for a £150m arts centre and visitor attraction to be built in Potter’s Field on London’s South Bank.

Called The Hill, due to its shape, the venue will be covered by a network of paths, forming an urban park on the site.

The landscaped structure will house a series of large galleries linked by tunnels and caves.

The centre will feature installations, rides, live performance and total immersion techniques in an attempt to combine the “physical thrills of the adventure-park” with the sensory and mental stimulation offered by the arts.

According to Ahh...Arts Igniting Minds (AAIM), which is spearheading the project, The Hill will become a major arts and cultural centrepiece for the 2012 Olympics.

The building has been designed by architect Kathryn Findlay, while plans for the gardens which will cover the centre have been created by landscape designer BBUK.

The project is the brainchild of AAIM's Simon Elliott, a former creative producer at the Jim Henson Creature Shop and a performer with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Elliott told Leisure Opportunities that The Hill will have two key values – access and entitlement.

"When people come across something new, they often feel either fear or fascination," he said.

"What we want is to combine those two to create drama that in turn attracts people."

"What we want is for the centre to be a constantly changing attraction which creates interaction between building and visitor."

Lord Chris Smith, director of the Clore Leadership, said: “This is a daring and exciting project. It combines art, entertainment, learning, excitement and innovation all in one place.”

Jude Kelly, artistic director of the South Bank Centre, added: "The Hill is the kind of experience you always wanted as a child – something that will encourage the sense of adventure and the thrill of the unexpected.

"London needs ideas like this if it to maintain its position as a creative centre."

The Hill will aim to attract a wide audience – Londoners, day visitors, tourists and families as well school children.

According to a spokesperson, the aim of the venue will be to provide a destination experience during the day, a meeting place in the early evening and a separate late night experience.

It will be designed to accommodate constant updates and change with the main rooms and galleries being re-interpreted on a regular basis and special presentations and events being staged in the large central gathering area.

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