East Bank, London
Stratford Waterfront is a new neighbourhood that will enable some of the world’s leading cultural and educational institutions to reach out into the London boroughs that hosted the Olympic Games. This important legacy investment will be the largest cultural investment in London since the Festival of Britain and the Southbank. It will also add a significant number of new homes, retail space, a high-quality public realm and additional cultural/community spaces that extend the Park’s reach while inviting residents and visitors alike to participate in an exciting cross-pollination of culture, education and research. The project aspires to achieve this through accessible and porous architecture that is welcoming to people of all walks of life.
On a slender site along the River Lea, nestled between Carpenter’s Road and the Waterworks River, the new buildings occupy a prominent position on the Olympic Park’s eastern edge, approachable and connected through a sequence of clearly legible public spaces. V&A East, a new gallery co-curated by the London-based museum with the Smithsonian Institution – the American national collection in Washington, sits at the intersection of new routes at the centre of the site. Arranged to its south are the London College of Fashion, the new home for BBC Music, and Sadler’s Wells East, facing the London Aquatics Centre and the arrival from Stratford. To the north is accommodation for 600 new homes across an ensemble of four buildings.
A key principle of the masterplan is of a ‘common ground’ which flows continuously from the Park up and into the public buildings, inviting easy colonisation by people, nature and culture. The buildings form a terrace which, while compact and efficient in its use of land, is deliberately relaxed in its composition. There is a distinct identity for each of the institutions and the masterplan maximises the potential of close adjacencies in a way that is natural and dynamic to explore the opportunities for permeability, interaction and collaboration at the interfaces. All the buildings embrace the concept of ‘casting,’ whether it be concrete, glass, metal, brick or ceramic, to create a warm palette which reflects the character of the site’s – and east London’s – industrial past.
Each building is unique. Sadler’s Wells has a recognisable saw-tooth roofline and is a robust building of natural coloured brick and cast clay tiles, metal windows and concrete structure. The BBC building consists of a weathered steel volume containing the studio for the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus with support spaces encased in concrete and glass. The largest building is the London College of Fashion. Conceived as a 21st century hub for making, encased in concrete, it has a perimeter of day-lit and naturally ventilated workshops which wraps around a dramatic internal courtyard crossed by stairs linking spaces for exchange. Its neighbour, V&A East contains two galleries, for permanent display and temporary exhibitions within a distinctive angular form cast in textured stone-like concrete. Beyond is a residential neighbourhood of four towers, the tallest and most visible at the prow, offering a contrast to the others which are more delicate in appearance.
London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC)
University of Arts London
Victoria & Albert Museum
Allies and Morrison
O’Donnell + Toumey
Arquitecturia Camps Felip
Gardiner & Theobald
Gardiner & Theobald
Allies and Morrison Urban Practitioners
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, London