The Olympic athletes’ village is a great development which will offer a valuable legacy, says Mash Halai. The British Library, however, is a missed opportunity

My wonder is the London 2012 athletes’ village. A collection of 10 architects have each been given a plot to design and the result is an affordable housing development like no other. Each location has its own features and characteristics, creating variety, while at the same time the Design Review Panel has ensured that each plot is also in harmony.

The village reaches Code of Sustainable Homes level 4 and is set up to support the wildlife in the area, with a combined cooling and heating power plant and re-cycled water also making up just some of the sustainable aspects of the village.

The legacy of this development has tremendous potential, with over 2,800 new homes being created for the private and affordable housing markets. The site will benefit from its historical significance (imagine living in a property that was once occupied by Sir Chris Hoy or Usain Bolt!) and the importance of the regeneration and creation of new communities should not be underestimated.

Olympic village


The Olympic village will accommodate 17,000 athletes during the 2012 Games and will be turned into 2,800 homes after the event. Masterplanned by Fletcher Priest, the different plots were designed by a group of big-name architects including Make, dRMM, Glenn Howells and Piercy Conner.

My blunder became legendary after taking 35 years to complete. The British Library was finished 15 years ago but is still talked about today. The result after this long period is a lacklustre red brick building - it certainly wasn’t worth the wait.

Although some may see it as a modernist icon, Prince Charles once described the Reading Room of the British Library, as looking “more like the assembly hall of an academy for secret police”. It looks particularly uninspiring next to the £800m redevelopment of St Pancras station. I can’t help but feel that an opportunity has been missed to create a building that truly represents the richness of the literature and materials that it holds.

British Library


Work on the British Library began in 1962. It was finally opened to the public in 1998. It was designed by Professor Sir Colin St John Wilson. It was the biggest public building project of the 20th century.

Mash Halai is head of residential development and regeneration at John Rowan & Partners, the independent certifiers for the athletes’ villageaffordable housing, polyclinic and academy.