The designer of the 2012 Olympic cauldron and London’s abortive Garden Bridge project is set to transform Olympia London as part of a new £1bn investment.
Thomas Heatherwick says he is planning a 21st-century “revitalisation” of the 14-acre Olympia exhibition site in West Kensington. Heatherwick Studio will work in collaboration with SPPARC Architects on the project to improve the customer offer and enhanced communal areas and retail units.
Having been bought by Yoo Capital and Deutsche Finance, earlier this year for £296m, the halls, which have hosted major events 130 years, are to be subject of a major refurbishment project that, says Heatherwick, will retain the venue’s Victorian features while improving the public facilities within.
Heatherwick has described the Olympia site as “eerily unalive”. Under the new plans it could now be transformed into a series of public spaces incorporating restaurants, a theatre, a hotel, a museum and a suite of entertainment venues within the exhibition space.
“My studio’s passion is improving the public experience of cities for everyone,” says Heatherwick. “During this first phase we are beginning to talk to people, particularly local residents and visitors, to learn more about Olympia London and are looking forward to working on the project.”
Olympia was designed by architect Henry Edward Coe and completed in 1886, originally called the National Agricultural Hall.
The six-hectare site hosts 220 exhibitions and events annually.
“When we took over as caretaker of Olympia London, we vowed to celebrate its iconic heritage. By working with world respected design firm Heatherwick Studio, we are ensuring that Olympia London is elevated on the world stage as a must-visit exhibition, events and leisure destination,” says John Hitchcox, the chair of Yoo Capital.
“Our Victorian forefathers first conceived Olympia London to be a destination for all people to see, learn and experience major exhibitions, events in culture, music, technology, arts and sports,” adds the company’s managing partner Lloyd Lee.
Gavin Neilan, co-managing partner of Deutsche Finance International says: “We are delighted to represent a consortium of long term investors, including leading German institutions, and work with our partner Yoo Capital and Olympia’s management team, to invest in and enhance the Olympia London experience for visitors and the wider community.”