Institute showcases vision for new cinemas, exhibition space, and an education and research centre

The British Film Institute has raised the curtain on plans to create a new base on London’s South Bank following an “unsolicited” funding offer worth two-thirds of the estimated £130m project cost.

Despite the emergence of a benefactor for the scheme, the BFI last week launched a tender process for the funding, design, build and fit-out of the venue along the lines proposed to “offer this opportunity to the wider market”.

The BFI said the International Centre for Film, TV and the Moving Image would be “the final piece” in the development of the capital’s South Bank Cultural Quarter, and offer three cinemas, a major gallery space, a state-of-the-art education and research facility.

The centre, earmarked for the site of the current Hungerford Car Park - between the London Eye and the Royal Festival Hall, would also feature a giant zoetrope, a camera obscura, and have the capacity to screen every format of film and digital, the institute said. Its latest proposals come six years after a previous bid to deliver a £90m 12,500m2 centre at the car-park site.

According to the BFI, the currently-tabled offer would see up to £87m made available to fund the design, construction and partial fit-out of the centre, in return for naming rights and exclusivity over food and drink sales in the venue, which is anticipated to have 2,000m2 of food and beverage space. The balance of the project cost would come from fund-raising.

An early-stage visualisation for the complex indicates a low-rise building with three above-ground storeys. Under the plans, part of the car-park site would be used for the expansion of the South Bank’s Jubilee Gardens.

The BFI said it was working with landowners, the South Bank Centre, Braeburn Estates, Jubilee Gardens Trust and Lambeth Council to ensure the development would be “sensitively designed”.

BFI chief executive Amanda Nevill said the British film industry deserved a home that expressed its optimism, confidence and excitement about the nation’s leading role in the future of film and television.

“It will be a place where filmmakers and audiences will come together to be inspired by our creative legacy and to be part of this most fast moving, dynamic and popular art-form,” she said.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, legendary US director Mel Brooks, and actors John Hurt, Helen Mirren and Idris Elba are among those voicing their support for the project.

A BFI spokeswoman said there were currently no plans to close the institute’s existing South Bank venue.

The OJEU tender documents for the scheme target the submission of a planning application by the end of next year and an opening date in 2022.

The BFI's proposed International Centre for Film, TV and the Moving Image

The South Bank site of the BFI’s proposed International Centre for Film, TV and the Moving Image