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Octopi’s competition-winning 2012 kiosk to be dropped

Newham Council is set to drop plans to build Studio Octopi’s competition-winning kiosk scheme in time for the London 2012 Olympics.

The black zinc-clad, timber-framed structure was chosen ahead of an impressive shortlist of emerging practices last October, following a high-profile Architecture Foundation-backed contest (AJ 21.10.10).

The £220,000 proposed building would have sat in Meridian Square, Stratford – the gateway to the Olympic Park.

Since its selection, the scheme had been substantially changed, on the request of the council, to include a Transport for London office and had been out to tender twice.

It is understood Newham has so far failed to find additional cash to fund the reworked project which has also been redesigned to incorporate more robust security features.

It is believed proposals have been put forward to put bollards on the site instead.

James Lowe of Studio Octopi said: ‘When an extra £40 million is spent on Olympic ceremonies, the budget for this scheme on a pivotal site is minuscule. The decision is slightly shortsighted.’

Sarah Ichioka of the Architecture Foundation said: ‘If Newham Council did indeed decide to stop or “postpone” this excellent scheme, it would send a strong statement about their values and priorities; that is, it would suggest the borough would prefer to spend taxpayers’ money on cosmetic improvements for international television cameras, rather than to invest a relatively modest amount on a sensitive, locally scaled building designed to serve Newham’s own residents and workers (alongside visitors) as they navigate the bustle of central Stratford each day.’

Clive Dutton, Newham Council’s executive director for regeneration said hopes for the project were not yet dead but admitted hopes were fading: ‘Even at this late stage we have been looking to see if resources could come from other sources. Otherwise, for the time being, it will be goodnight Vienna.

’In essence the scheme is now double the original budget. This is [mainly] due to [extra] security factors… which [could] not necessarily have been sorted at the outset of the contest.

‘Sometimes the devil is in the detail.’

He added: ‘Any proposal has got to be affordable. In this age of austerity we have to look at the value. Newham has been impacted as hard as anybody in London with cuts of more than £160 million.

‘But if the private sector came forward with a proposal that washed its face then we would be all ears’

 

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