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The Royal Festival Hall was built in 1949-51 and was the only permanent building to be constructed on the Festival of Britain's South Bank site. It was designed by the London County Council Architect's Department and was a replacement for the bombed Queen's Hall in Langham Place. Leslie Martin was responsible for the plan.

The hall, known as the 'egg in the box', was built with foyers beneath and to either side. All were connected by stairwells, another of which led to a restaurant overlooking the river. All load-bearing walls were built from reinforced concrete, while the auditorium was clad in Derbyshire fossil stone, inside and out. In 1963-65 the exterior was rebuilt and faced predominantly in Portland stone with passages in blue-grey mosaic and some small areas of cream-brown tiling. At the same time as these alterations, foyers and terraces were added to the riverside façade and dressing rooms were added to the rear. The hall is ceiled in fibrous plaster with openings for lighting and for acoustic systems, and there is a suspended curved canopy of elm over the orchestra. The auditorium is stepped to a depth of 100 feet from the slate floor in front of the orchestral platform and main cantilevered balcony. The sides of the auditorium are gently canted on plan and mainly panelled with strips of elm. Boxes with fronts of curved profile are cantilevered off auditorium walls and connected by internal passages and backed with red wool hangings designed by Sadie Speight. The rear wall of the auditorium is canted with an organ in the centre built in 1950-53 by Harrison and Harrison of Durham to a specification by Ralph Downes and installed behind a screen of pipes designed by Leslie Martin.

In the 1990s Allies and Morrison restored much of the open character of Peter Moro's foyers while in 2005-7 the hall underwent further substantial refurbishment. In 2010, a fundraising campaign was underway to raise £1.3 million to complete the restoration of the organ.

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