iCITY reveals new architectural designs for the former Olympic press and broadcast centres
iCITY has revealed new architectural designs for the planned technology hub at the former Olympic broadcast and press centres in Stratford.
Architect firm Hawkins/Brown is responsible for the project, which will be put on display at a public consultation this evening, ahead of a formal planning application in November.
iCITY CEO Gavin Poole explained that the design was a complete overhaul – the company wanted to show the local community its vision and stress the benefits the hub will bring, including 4,500 jobs and £340 million to the local economy.
“iCITY’s vision is to be anchored in the creativity, energy and innovation of East London, providing state-of-the art infrastructure for the digital and creative industries,” said Poole. “These designs fulfill that ambition, and are an important step towards delivering the economic and employment legacy from London 2012.”
Hawkins/Brown explained they liked the existing industrial aesthetic of the two main buildings and wanted to infuse them with bright colours. They even took inspiration from the ‘dazzle’ patterns of World War II battleships and air hangars.
Most of the 300,000 square foot press centre will become office space, while the lower west-facing level opposite the canal will be used for local artisan businesses such as bakers and cafes.
The 800,000 square foot broadcast centre will house one of Europe’s most efficient server farms, operated by Infinity SDC, alongside BT Sport’s studios. These form the ‘core’ of the broadcast centre, with the ‘crust’ occupying the first 16 metres of the building. The architects explained that although it was currently housed in solid panels, the new designs would take advantage of natural light.
On the east side of the broadcast centre is the gantry, which was used to store equipment during the London 2012 Olympic Games. It was supposed to be removed after the Olympics, but Hawkins/Brown opted to keep it as it was structurally sound and ideal for small-scale structures built by startups and small local businesses.
In between the ‘two workhouse’ buildings will be an auditorium, housing between 750 and 900 people, while the yard will be an adaptable space for activities, such as film screenings and celebratory events.
“These gargantuan buildings present a huge opportunity to create an entirely new neighbourhood,” said David Bickle, Partner at Hawkins\Brown. “We were given an almost blank canvas to design something that captured and reflected East London’s creativity and soul. We have taken inspiration from a vast range of sources, but not least the energy of the Olympics.”
Future of iCITY
iCITY will take full control of the buildings in early 2014, and says the complex is already 40 percent let, with BT Sport already operating and Loughborough University and Hackney Community College among confirmed tenants.
When asked if it needed another anchor tenant such as Facebook or Google, Richard Gibbs, business development director at iCITY, said it was unlikely those two companies would be joining as they had just secured space elsewhere in London, but that iCITY was in talks with a number of major tech firms.
“This is a hugely significant moment in the evolution of iCITY,” added Poole. “These new and inspirational designs reflect our commitment and vision to develop a hub for the digital and creative industries on the Olympic Park, supporting the development of East London into one of the world’s leading technology centres.”
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