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Studio Octopi to design Olympic kiosks

Studio Octopi has won the Architecture Foundation’s competition to design kiosks for Meridian Square, Stratford – the gateway to the Olympic Park

42 Architects came second and Moxon Architects third in the Newham Council and Design for London-supported contest which was one of the last opportunities for small practices to bag a slice of east London’s Olympics regeneration programme.

Chris Romer-Lee, partner at the winning practice, said: ‘We’re obviously pleased, the majority of our work has been residential – apart from the advertising agency and church stuff – this is going to be a major boost to the public side of things.

‘It will hopefully be a good stepping stone towards working with Newham.’

The winning scheme, which will sit outside Stratford Regional Station in east London, will be clad in black zinc and house four separate kiosks and an exhibition space under one roof.

The £220,000 timber-framed building will be converted into a café and newsagents after the Games.

Philip Singleton, divisional director of major sites at the London Borough of Newham, said: ‘I am especially pleased that Newham, as the client, is choosing to support a young practice – especially during this tough period.’

‘The winner responded to the chaotic, rather displaced spaces which make up Stratford. The scheme creates a series of new edges and defines a new route, whilst the material palette is composed in a simple, sustainable and well-mannered way.  The plan clearly responds well to the intense period of use in 2012, and then allows, with ease, a reconfiguring far more than a decade beyond that.’

The full shortlist and longlist was revealed last month.

A planning application will be submitted shortly and work on site is expected to commence in May 2011.


A competition judge’s view

The scale of change in and around Stratford is massive, with the Olympic site, Stratford City and the transformation of Stratford town centre all well underway. The process of making these projects happen to a fixed deadline is unsurprisingly quite a juggernaut, with limited scope to initiate smaller projects or involve emerging practices. When I suggested to Newham and TfL that the new kiosks building in Meridian Square could provide a good opportunity to open up the procurement process, they immediately agreed, but it’s been quite a challenge to make this happen, because of the various contracts and programmes already in place and the intricacies of public sector procurement rules. 

So I am particularly pleased that the design competition for the Stratford Kiosks has been such a success. The scale of the initial response and the international interest in the competition proved just how much appetite there is amongst architects to be involved in the complex changes happening in East London. At the final interviews last week the professionalism, creativity and thoroughness with which all of the shortlisted firms had developed their designs was genuinely impressive. I came away even more convinced of the value that this design competition will add to the wider transformation of the area – the level of ambition and care which has gone into studio octopi’s winning scheme will create a building that punches well above its weight.’

Eleanor Fawcett is design for London’s head of design for the Olympic legacy and lower lea valley

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