The 2012 Olympics’ Press and Broadcast Centres are being reinvented as a tech and media neighbourhood for London
When 900m people watched the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, the pictures were beamed from a gargantuan purpose-built broadcast centre reputedly big enough to house six jumbo-jets. In November, Londoners were given an insight into the buildings’ legacy, as iCITY – a joint venture between property firm Delancey and data centre operator Infinity SDC – submitted its plans to transform the press and broadcast centres, totalling more than 100,000sq m, into a new creative neighbourhood. It followed an initial and unsatisfactory collaboration with GMW before the company drafted in Hawkins\Brown to design a suitably edgy home for start-ups. Alongside what Delancey undoubtedly hopes will be a tempting proposition for Old Street’s tech businesses, there will be a postgraduate research centre for Loughborough University, a new branch of Hackney Community College and Infinity SDC’s super-efficient data centre.
Separated from Hackney Wick by Regent’s Canal, this space, the former Press Centre, aims to attract cafes, shops and social spaces that will merge with the existing small businesses of the Wick.
One of the most significant moves by Hawkins\Brown has been convincing iCITY to retain the former Broadcast Centre’s gantry – a supposedly temporary gridded steel frame overlooking the Olympic Park.
On the former Broadcast Centre’s west elevation, the architect has emphasised the building’s industrial scale with aircraft-hanger-sized doors emblazoned with graphics, and huge openings in the facade that work as breakout space. The media briefing room, described by Hawkins\Brown as the ‘handshake’ between the two buildings, will become a 1,000-seat auditorium. The courtyard below will be used for film screenings, markets, pop-up stalls and street-food vendors.