Heatherwick’s Olympia

Steel and Glass


Among the great Victorian buildings of London, the Olympia events center in the west part of the English capital is one of the oldest, yet not among the most widely known of. The specialist Andrew Handyside built this exhibition venue in 1886, taking the Crystal Palace as model, and since the 1936 destruction of Joseph Paxton’s mythical work, its 16,000-square-meter roof over a foyer 137 meters long and 76 meters wide has been considered the largest iron-and-glass structure in the entire United Kingdom.

Notwithstanding, this great iconic piece of architectural heritage that contains spacious exhibition halls has quite been left to rot in the past decades, hence the decision to carry out a complete, radical overhaul and turn it into a mixed-use complex featuring hotels, restaurants, cinemas, offices, studios, and spaces for coworking, besides a series of new public spaces. With a budget in the area of 800 million euros, and with completion planned for the year 2023, the reconversion has been assigned to Thomas Heatherwick, whose firm is one of the strongest in the current British architectural scene, and who in the wake of his successful intervention in the King’s Cross neighborhood (see Arquitectura Viva 201), will try to upgrade the historical building while creating pavilions for new uses.

Included Tags: