Designed by architect Denys Lasdun in 1976, The Royal National Theatre is one of London’s most recognizable examples of brutalism.
Denys Lasdun's National Theatre – one of London's best-known and most divisive Brutalist buildings – is a layered concrete landscape that Prince Charles once described as being like "a nuclear power station".
Lasdun was appointed to the project in 1963. With no previous experience in theatre design, he persuaded the board of theatre directors, designers and technical experts to give him the job without a team alongside him but with the drama of a solo-performance.
Completed in 1976, the Royal National Theatre stands on the South Bank of the Thames, just downstream of Waterloo bridge. It is formed from two fly towers rising from layered horizontal terraces that wrap around the building, cascading to the river level.
The complex consists of three main theaters: the open-stage theater, the largest amphitheater; a smaller Proscenium theater, and a third small studio theater. These concert halls exist alongside multiple interior spaces: a learning center, restaurants, a riverside bar, and a bookshop among others, that merge with sprawling terraces and maze-like passageways to create a city-like layout. On the riverside, the main public area is created through interconnected foyers that sit in an L-shape around the two larger theaters.
"The National Theatre is one of the last great buildings of the age of public sector architecture," said architectural historian Kester Ratterbury, "of a really ambitious public facility which sought to be itself, not a poor copy of commercial work."