Albertopolis Public Realm

In February 2010, Deborah Saunt was awarded the Research Fellowship in the Built Environment by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. 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.

Emerging from the Fellowship research is a landscaping project, developed in collaboration with Todd Longstaff-Gowan, for the area around the Royal Albert Hall, specifically the spaces between two of London’s most visited and photographed monuments - the Royal Albert Hall and Albert Memorial.

Anchoring the northern part of the estate, and in close proximity to the most important open green space in London, Hyde Park, the two icons bring an axial order to the surrounding institutions and play a critical role in defining the character of Albertopolis and beyond. Their function and use provides us with a constant reminder of Prince Albert’s original vision for the South Kensington site. However, the Royal Albert Hall has become an island, separated from its namesake’s memorial by a busy road and marooned within its footprint by residential housing. The current setting of the Royal Albert Hall does not offer the dignity and accessibility that our artists and audiences expect of such an internationally significant building. 

The design aspires to return the Royal Albert Hall to its rightful setting, creating a shared space between the Hall, the Albert Memorial and Kensington Gardens, extending the success of the shared space of Exhibition Road north to the Hall and providing a benefit to our audiences, visitors to the area and our neighbouring institutions. 

The proposed landscaping will transform the entrance to the park at the front of the Royal Albert Hall with step-free access, accentuating the link between the Memorial and the Hall. The crossing will be widened and the carriageway will be narrowed to help slow traffic and improve crossing for pedestrians. The space around the building will be redesigned to create new and appealing public space and improve connectivity with both the Gardens and South Kensington.

Architect: DSDHA
Landscape Architect: Todd Longstaffe-Gowan
Planning Consultant: Allies & Morrison
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