/ 2 May 2009

Design chief warns of London ‘wasteland’ legacy

London’s Olympic Park could become a wasteland after the 2012 Games unless better legacy plans are put in place to counter the removal of temporary stadiums, one of the British government’s chief design advisers was reported as saying on Friday.

Paul Finch, chairperson of Cabe’s 2012 panel, the review group tasked with overseeing the architecture and urban design of the London Games, warned that the 202 hectare site could consist of ”huge gaping holes” once the temporary stadiums had been removed.

”The big concern is that it will be a bit like the Millennium Dome, surrounded by huge areas of wasteland with literally nothing there,” he was quoted as saying in Building Design, a newspaper for architects.

”This is something that is being worked on now, but if you look at the Olympic site and consider what the map will look like a couple of months after the Games, once all the temporary facilities have been taken out, there are going to be an awful lot of great big gaps in the site — this is really the big challenge now.”

Temporary venues include the 12 000-seater basketball arena and part of the 100 000-square-metre International Broadcast Centre/Main Press Centre (IBC/MPC).

His comments came after Cabe refused to support the proposed designs for the IBC/MPC put forward by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA).

Cabe said there were serious concerns over the quality of architecture, which it described as ”extremely weak”.

The design for the IBC showed a ”paucity of imagination”, it said, which could even blight the Olympic legacy, while more work was needed to improve the ”large monolithic block” of the MPC.

”Unless there is a fundamental rethink, then people could be forgiven for wondering why sheds have been removed from the Lower Lea Valley in the name of high quality urban regeneration, only to be reinstated at a much larger scale,” it said in a statement.

The ODA, which is responsible for construction of the venues, said in a statement: ”Work on the external appearance of the buildings is ongoing and we look forward to discussing this further with Cabe and other partners.” – Reuters