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First look: Olympic Village takes shape

The AJ can reveal the latest shots of the 2012 Olympic Village in east London

The 11 residential buildings are being designed by the likes of Denton Corker Marshall, DSDHA, dRMM, Eric Parry, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, Glenn Howells, CF Moller and Patel Taylor.

Backed by developer Lend Lease, the buildings feature a standard chassis with differing facades and will, once converted after the Games, eventually create 2,818 of new homes which will be managed by Triathlon Homes.

Construction work started on the Athletes’ Village almost exactly two years ago in June 2008 and three-quarters of the residential plots are now ‘structurally’ complete.

The structure of the AHMM-designed education campus being built in the Village, Chobham Academy, is coming out of the ground with the second floor of the four-storey building now finished.

Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport and the Olympics, said: ‘With these images we are starting to see just what the Athletes’ Village will look like in 2012.

‘The top-quality accommodation that will be home to athletes will also become a cornerstone of the East London community long after the Games are over, providing iconic new housing for thousands of people.’

However not everybody is convinced. Ben Adams, whose then-practice Nissen Adams was among a raft of shortlisted practices to miss out on Olympic work, said the scheme ‘was hard to get excited about.’

He added: ‘[The Athletes’ Village] ought to be a model for future urban development and yet I doubt even Lend Lease would argue that it is.

‘The buildings will be finished in time and not too much over budget and there will be a legacy for some time after the Olympic pageant has moved on.

‘It won’t be much of an architectural legacy in the village though, and has to go down as a huge opportunity lost. I know that risk is as old fashioned as sugar in your tea these days but if clients don’t take risks there is little room for innovation, novelty, delight, brilliance…all the things that make great architecture.’


Richard Scott of Surface Architects (another ‘small’ practice shortlisted for Olympic work)
The images are disappointing, if not surprising. The squeeze seemed to happen quite early in the process and we could see that the original intent of providing opportunities for numerous younger architects on the ‘panel’ was quickly eroding. Despite this we had hoped that a more limited selection of architects could still result in an architecture which speaks of London’s celebrated difference and vitality. The early site images suggest something generic and bland, which we have seen before. Difficult circumstances, yes, but still a huge missed opportunity. 

Readers' comments (4)

  • More eastern europe than east london, a good list of architects names but so far looks like a grim sixties housing estate, Ben Adams is right, very difficult to get excited about. The work Macreanor Lavington and others are doing up the road in Canning Town is far better.

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  • OK for a temporary athletes' village, but as permanent homes this is a real throwback; SOME LEGACY!

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  • 4kitect

    honestly?? sh!t.. the council are pulling down some flats in my town that look similar to this.

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    wait til its finished then see what you think

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