The idea of a national theatre was born before the First World War, and many sites were proposed and many architects chipped in before Denys Lasdun & Partners's building came to fruition over 1961-76. The use of concrete makes it an uncompromising building; close-up the shuttering (the texture of the wooden frames into which the concrete is poured leaves an impression) is evident. So, unlike a thatched cottage or Georgian manor house, it is not immediately likeable; Pevsner remarks that it is "a demonstration against conventional beauty". However, one can learn to appreciate it - I didn't like it, but now it is one of my favourite buildings in London. What I think makes it is the way the dominant horizontal terraces are counterbalanced by the strong vertical accents of the fly-towers. Plus, and I must be really weird, I appreciate the severity of concrete. Another view here: TQ3080 : National Theatre, Upper Ground (1)
. Grade II* listed.
The NT is actually three theatres, the Olivier, Lyttelton and Cottlesloe, and forms part of the South Bank arts complex together with the Royal Festival Hall (TQ3080 : Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road (1)
), National Film Theatre, Hayward Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Hall, and Purcell Room.
To the left the IBM logo can just be made out - Lasdun designed their building in a complementary style in 1979-83 (TQ3180 : IBM, Upper Ground
). The tower behind is Kent House (TQ3180 : Kent House, Upper Ground
). Further left, in the distance, the ubiquitous Shard is under construction.