Our work in Stratford’s East Village goes back to 2008, when we designed two of the twelve apartment buildings for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) that formed the London 2012 Athletes’ Village, before designing and installing all the temporary facilities for the 2012 Games as architects for the overlay. This included the magnificent Olympic dining tent, measuring 80m x 225m (18,000sqm or nearly 2 hectares) and providing meals for 5,000 athletes at one sitting. Outstanding design, accessibility and sustainability were key aspects of the work for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Village, and they are tenets that have guided our work on the site ever since.
When the 23,000 competitors returned to their home countries, vacating the newly-created blocks, we worked with the ODA to convert the village for ordinary occupants. This entailed the removal of temporary partitions and the addition of kitchens, as well as the provision of shops and restaurants and fitout in the ground floors, which were previously occupied by Games amenities. This repurposing is an example of the ‘long-life, loose-fit’ ethos we espouse in the office. Another example is the temporary relocatable building we designed to provide meanwhile facilities, including a supermarket, gym, pub and coffee shop, required to keep the growing community exercised and provisioned while permanent buildings were under construction.
The latest stage in our ongoing involvement has been the creation of a new masterplan for Qatari Diar-Delancey (who purchased the Village) for 2,000 additional apartments for private rent on the remaining land. We have designed and delivered two of the six residential towers that form a crescent enclosing Victory Park; Victory Plaza creates more, flexible living space for Londoners, in buildings that create a strong sense of place for local residents next to the main hub of Victory Park.
Beside these innovative and flexible new homes, E20 is shaping up to be a true neighbourhood community in the best traditions of London life. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is home to parklands, waterways, playgrounds and cafés, and world-class sports facilities. Although the Stratford Westfield shopping centre is only a short walk away, small, only independent businesses have been given space in the area, so shops and cafés such as Olive Loves Alfie East’ and Tina, we Salute You give the place a distinctive, neighbourly feel. Described as London’s “hippest new postcode” by Vogue magazine, E20 is something that most new neighbourhoods aspire to be: liveable. Returning there, it is apparent how that most intangible of things – a sense of community, rooted in a distinctive place – is growing year after year.