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South Kensington can chart its

cultural birth back to the 1850s. The

Great Exhibition, held in Hyde Park

and organised by Prince Albert,

effectively gave rise to the V&A

and the term Albertopolis, which

was coined for the cluster of iconic

institutions established in the area.

Today, South Kensington is home to

numerous art galleries and museums.

As well as the aforementioned

Victoria & Albert Museum, the Science

Museum and the Natural History

Museum are the most well known,

while other cultural and educational

institutions, including the Royal

College of Music and the Royal Albert

Hall have established a presence

in the area. South Kensington’s

reputation as a cultural and education

cluster brings with it visitor numbers

in excess of 20 million. More recently,

the main thoroughfare of Exhibition

Road became a shared street, where

pedestrians and traffic are no longer

segregated which has enabled a

greater connection between the

public realm and the museums.

Southbank is often referred to as

London’s ‘cultural quarter’. A mix of

tourist attractions, artistic venues,

bars and restaurants with a river

frontage create a vibrant and focal

point for visitors and workers alike.

At its heart is the Southbank Centre,

which comprises of five artistic

venues and is the UK’s largest

arts centre. Numerous theatres sit

alongside, with probably the best

known being the The Old Vic and

the Shakespeare’s Globe theatre,

which was reconstructed in 1997.

Southbank’s culture is ingrained in

its urban fabric and the area has

been successful in bringing older

obsolete buildings into modern

use. These include the Tate Modern,

the world famous home of modern

and contemporary art, which is

housed in what was originally the

Bankside Power Station, while the

once derelict Oxo Tower now is

home to contemporary designers,

restaurants, bars and gallery space.

Southbank is also the home to the

oldest recognised skateboarding

space in the world. The Undercroft,

used by skateboarders, BMXers and

graffiti artists, recently came under

threat from proposed redevelopment

but public outcry has ensured

that the area is preserved long

term for authentic street culture,

demonstrating the value that culture

can bring to the long-term viability

of an area.

Characterised by bars, cafes,

nightclubs and cabaret, Soho was

historically the home of ‘low-lifers

and high-lifers, romantics and realists,

drunks and dreamers’. Its streets

are steeped in a rich heritage of the

performing arts; but to the dismay of

many it is steadily being gentrified

and moving on from its salacious

past. Soho is also widely known for

its position as the heart and soul

of the LGBTQ+ scene, with Old

Compton Street at its heart. Caravan,

a members club which offered refuge

for the gay and lesbian community

during the early 1930s, was recently

recreated by The National Trust,

as part of a project celebrating 50

years since the decriminalisation of

homosexuality and the importance

of ‘sidelined culture’. Following the

high profile closure of Madam JoJo’s,

the iconic burlesque nightclub, back

in 2014, alongside a number of other

venues, the news that it could be re-

opened in the near term along with the

recent relaunch of noughties nightclub,

Paper, was music to the ears of many

who fight for Soho to retain its night

time economy and culture.

South Kensington




culture is


in its urban

fabric and

the area

has been


in bringing




into modern