Design quango says RPS Burks Green building will 'blight' Olympic legacy

The government’s design watchdog has given the media and broadcasting centres for the 2012 Olympic Games a drubbing, describing the quality of the buildings' architecture as “extremely weak” and failing to support their planning application.

Building reported in March that government design watchdog Cabe had serious concerns over the designs for the buildings, but this is the first time the body has made its observations public. RPS Burks Green is lead designer for the international broadcasting centre, and Allies & Morrison for the main press centre.

In a withering report, Cabe’s 2012 design review panel slammed the “extraordinary banality” of the international broadcasting centre. It said: “In our view, it is simply not good enough as currently proposed. We would go so far as to say that its continued presence would blight rather than enhance the Olympic legacy.”

The main press centre came in for similar criticism, with the panel describing it as a “large monolithic block” and calling for further design work to be done on it.

Paul Finch, chair of the London 2012 design review panel, said: “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.”

The buildings were given outline planning permission in September 2007, but a decision on whether or not to give detailed permission is due in June. Cabe urged the Olympic planning authorities not to grant it permission unless the designs are significantly improved.

In response, an Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) spokesperson said: "We have worked closely with our partners to agree a compact and efficient media centre, within the layout given planning approval in 2007, to maximise value for the taxpayer and ensure a sustainable legacy. The IBC/MPC works well during Games time and provides a flexible employment space in legacy for a range of potential legacy uses. Work on the external appearance of the buildings is ongoing and we look forward to discussing this further with Cabe and other partners.”

He added that over the last six months, the ODA had saved a significant amount of public money on the design by reducing building and legacy transformation costs.

Olympic Media Centre

Read the whole of the report at the Cabe website

Building the 2012 Olympics