Hammersmith & Fulham Council has approved Heatherwick Studio and SPPARC’s plans for a £1 billion overhaul of the Olympia exhibition centre in west London
Tthe 186,000m² project, which was submitted for planning last October, is backed by Yoo Capital, which jointly owns the 132-year-old building with Deutsch Finance.
The practices will completely revamp the existing exhibition halls, as well as adding 51,000m² of offices, studios and co-working space for ‘the creative industries in art, music and entertainment’.
Billed as creating a new ‘cultural hub’, the plans include a four-screen arthouse cinema, a 1,000-seat performing arts space, a 1,500-seat theatre, 900m² of performance and rehearsal space, and a new jazz club-style restaurant and venue.
There are proposals too for extra shops, cafés, hotels and new public space including pedestrianised squares and a sky garden with the historic façades on Olympia Way fully restored while spaces such as the Pillar Hall are opened to the public.
The scheme’s budget has already ballooned from the original £700 million earmarked for the 5.6ha project.
The exhibition centre was built in 1886 as the National Agricultural Hall to designs by architect Henry Edward Coe. Today it is the venue for more than 220 exhibitions and events each year, including the Olympia Horse Show and Stylist Live. Buildings on the site were listed in 2003.
In 2010, ColladoCollins Architects landed planning permission for a project to upgrade the exhibition centre with the addition of a restaurant, offices, conference facilities and, potentially, a 500-bedroom hotel.
However, in 2017, the building’s previous owner, Capital & Counties Properties, sold the building and related property assets in a £296 million deal.
The latest plans were lodged with the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham after 14 months of consultation. The team submitted three applications: the main masterplan; an outline application for the pedestrianisation and development along Olympia Way, and a listed building consent.
Yoo Capital chairman John Hitchcox said: ‘Not only is this great news for London, it’s also an example of a British project with European investment creating jobs and opportunities in spite of the current economic and political climate.
‘We will achieve [our plans] with minimal disruption to the hundreds of inspirational events that will continue to take place at Olympia London during the transformation.’
Work is expected to begin next year with the first tenants moving in before 2023.
Type of project Investment in existing exhibition space, with additional cultural and commercial uses including: new public realm, a glass canopy, a theatre, a music venue, office space, two hotels, a cinema, a logistics centre and an energy centre.
Client A joint venture of institutional investors led and advised by Deutsche Finance International (DFI) and Yoo Capital (YC)
Collaborating architects Heatherwick Studio and SPPARC
Planning consultant Gerald Eve
Structural engineer Pell Frischmann
M&E consultant Desco
Quantity surveyor Gardiner & Theobald
CDM adviser Gardiner & Theobald
Gross internal floor area 186,000m²
Heatherwick Studio and SPPARC Architects’ proposals to revamp London’s Olympia - masterplan of illustrative land use (November 2018)