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Plans lodged for £1.1bn East Bank cultural hub in Olympic Park

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Allies and Morrison-led proposals for a £1.1 billion East Bank ‘cultural quarter’ in Stratford, formerly known as Olympicopolis, have been submitted to planners 

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) project at the Olympic Park will provide new facilities for some of the UK’s major cultural institutions, creating a ’powerhouse of culture, education and innovation’ across three sites.

Earlier proposals had to undergo a major redesign, with tower heights cut back after a row over protected views of St Paul’s Cathedral (see AJ 12.10.17).

Following the launch of the new plans in the summer, the LLDC has now submitted a hybrid application with detailed designs for the cultural buildings and outline permission for 600 new homes, half of which will be affordable.

The Stratford Waterfront will be home to outposts for the BBC, the V&A and its new partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, a 550-seat theatre for dance company Sadler’s Wells and a new campus for the University of the Arts’ London College of Fashion.

O’Donnell + Tuomey, which has been nominated for the RIBA Stirling Prize five times, is overseeing the V&A and Sadler’s Wells buildings, while masterplanner Allies and Morrison is carrying out the detailed design work on the BBC and London College of Fashion.

The residential element will include a quartet of towers of up to 24 storeys and a trio of smaller residential buildings. These lower blocks and three of the high-rises will be designed by Allies and Morrison.

A fourth tower has been drawn up by RIBA Gold Medal winners O’Donnell + Tuomey. Emerging Spanish practice Camps Felip Arquitecturia is also working on the project.

It follows approval of outline plans for the nearby UCL East campus in March. Detailed proposals for Stanton Williams’ Marshgate I, a 35,000m² centre for academic research and teaching facility and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ £90 million Pool Street West scheme were submitted in October. 

Rosanna Lawes, director of development at the LLDC said: ’[This] announcement takes us another step closer to realising one of the most ambitious and largest culture and education investments the capital has ever seen, creating thousands of jobs and huge opportunities in the heart of east London.’

The Stratford Waterfront vision was first unveiled by the then London Mayor, Boris Johnson, in 2013, who dubbed the scheme ’Olympicopolis’. 

But the LLDC was forced to scale back the original proposals, which included two twin towers of 30 and 40 storeys, as a result of a spat over the impact on the skyline of another nearby project – SOM’s Manhattan Loft Gardens tower near Stratford station.

Conservation group Friends of Richmond Park called on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to halt the construction of SOM’s 42-storey skyscraper, claiming it ‘destroyed’ a historic view of St Paul’s from the park.

In 2016, the scheme’s brick and glass designs were heavily criticised by leading architects Peter Cook, the late Will Alsop and Ian Ritchie, who described the development as ‘dull as ditchwater’, ‘under-amplified Vivaldi’ and ‘tried and tired’.

The government has committed to contributing £151 million to the project, with another £385 million to be contributed by the GLA.

Subject to planning permission, Stratford Waterfront is expected to open from 2022.

Stratford waterfront masterplan

Stratford waterfront masterplan

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