Heatherwick Studio and SPPARC lead major redesign of Olympia London

Olympia London National
Olympia London owners, Deutsche Finance and Yoo Capital are spearheading the transformation of the 130-year-old venue into a major hub for the creative industries
(Image credit: Heatherwick Studio, SPPARC)

What do the 1.6m visitors who attend trade fairs at Olympia Exhibition Centre every year make of its ailing Victorian infrastructure, soulless eateries and traffic clogged surroundings? It’s a far cry from the 21st-century image of modernity that the capital wants to project, and a poor relation to venues in other event-focused cities such as Paris and Frankfurt. However, initial designs unveiled today by London’s Heatherwick Studio and SPPARC architects reveal that by around 2023 Olympia will be a top tier event space and a new cultural quarter.

The £700m transformation sees improved links between all four of the 130-year-old exhibition halls, a newly-opened roof area topped with a glass dome and underground parking. More than 55,000 sq m of new co-working and studio space will lure creative workers to this part of west London, and a theatre, music venue and cinema will attract visitors beyond those with trade show tickets. Public spaces buzzing with independent eateries, cafes, bars and hotels will ensure that Olympia becomes a destination in itself.

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The next step in the building’s ambitious reinvention is the submition of the planning application, which is scheduled for September 2018

(Image credit: Heatherwick Studio, SPPARC)

It is the latest project of British real estate developer John Hitchcox , who joined forces with Deutsche Finance to raise the development funds. Since founding Yoo with Philippe Starck in 1998, Hitchcox has created more than 80 projects across the globe, working with a roster of design stars, from Marcel Wanders to Jade Jagger and Steve Leung. ‘As caretakers of Olympia, we are investing to protect this iconic site and promote it on the global stage as a world-leading destination for the creative industries,’ he says, and with the demolition of nearby Earls Court Exhibition Centre in 2017, he laments a dearth of suitable events venues in London.

Heatherwick and SPPARC are both making their marks elsewhere in the capital too; SPPARC’s Music Box is a cubed-shaped campus in Bankside set to become a new home for the London College of Creative Media, and this autumn, Coal Drops Yard, Heatherwick’s over-9,000 sq m retail quarter in Kings Cross, opens.

Read more about Heatherwick Studio projects here

Olympia London Ggate

The exhibition centre will be completely redesigned by Heatherwick Studio and SPPARC

(Image credit: Heatherwick Studio and SPPARC)


For more information visit Heatherwick Studio’s website and SPPARC’s website

Emma O'Kelly is a contributing editor at Wallpaper*. She joined the magazine on issue 4 as news editor and since since then has worked in full and part time roles across many editorial departments. She is a freelance journalist based in London and works for a range of titles from Condé Nast Traveller to The Telegraph. She is currently working on a book about Scandinavian sauna culture and is renovating a mid century house in the Italian Lakes.