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KCAP to shake up 2012 legacy

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Dutch firm Kees Christiaanse Architects (KCAP) has been drafted in to join Allies and Morrison and partner EDAW on the Olympic Park Legacy masterplan in order to ‘ask questions’ of its co-designers.

Speaking to the AJ after the official announcement by the London Development Agency (LDA) of the selection of the three practices on 28 January, KCAP project leader Markus Dettling said: ‘We are different to Allies and Morrison and EDAW. They have been working on the masterplan for the Olympic Park for quite a long time so we see our role as one of questioning. By doing so we will achieve, possibly, a better result’.

Allies and Morrison partner Graham Morrison welcomed the appointment and conceded that having worked for so long on the Olympic Park masterplan, ‘there was a danger’ the practice could become ‘fixed in its approach’.

He added: ‘The difference is that KCAP is prepared to take additional risks with juxtapositions of uses or even scales. I think that sort of thing comes from not being British and is slightly unfamiliar to us.

‘We have worked on the Olympics from the beginning and there is a danger that you become rather fixed in your ways and it is fantastic to be challenged on some of those assumptions and I think [KCAP] will be able to do that.

‘Equally we have our feet so much on the ground that should they offer things that are over the top we will be able to modify it in some way,’ said Morrison.

Speaking at the official launch of the legacy masterplan, held at LDA’s Palestra HQ, Gareth Blacker, director of the Olympic Legacy Development Team, said both KCAP’s and Edaw and Allies and Morrison’s submissions had ‘stood out’ from the five-strong short list, which also included Urban Practitioners, Arup and Maxwan, and Witherford Watson Mann.

As well as taking in the Olympic Park and its venues including the HOK-designed stadium and Zaha Hadid’s Aquatic Centre (see image above), the masterplan will cover the complete regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley and will include the provision of 9,000 homes (including 3,300 in the Athletes’ Village which is to be handed over by Lend Lease at the end of the Games).

The finished masterplan will be presented in 18 months.

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