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2012 Olympic Dining / 2020 Education Campus: A Programmatic Topography

Part 1 Project 2008
Christopher Kennedy
University of Cambridge Cambridge UK
The success of London’s Olympic development is critically dependant on its absorption into Stratford. A dual-brief of athlete’s dining hall (2012) and school (2020) situated at the North Eastern edge of the Olympic site recognises this, but without any sense of the scale of the problem –catering for 17,000 athletes while avoiding monotony, connecting two radically different neighbourhood across a rail line, etc.

The topographic architectural strategy attempts to stitch together two contrasting neighbourhoods using a continuous roof structure that creates two unique worlds: a roofscape wildlife conserve above and an inhabited landscape beneath.
Overlap between these two worlds occurs where the roof bows down to support itself, providing a series of intimate open spaces, and panoramic views across this birdland sanctuary.
The roof structure, which extends continuously across a large area of the site, deals with the non-specific; allowing a diffuse, non-heirachical distribution of programme. It is the framework in which variety and flexibility can occur and is a constant for both Olympic dining mode and legacy development. It was modelled from a series of investigations into the dynamics and flexibility of paper-lattice structures.
Conversely, surface treatment deals with the specifics of place-making, with the philosophy that variety allows for flexibility, relating to sustainability in the long term. Both programmes require a variety of interior and exterior spaces, provided by various roof cladding and partitions that can be increased over time: In August 2012 the dining terraces are more open, with long vistas, and a range of open and partially shaded dining areas serviced by ‘kiosk’ units. In school mode a series of calmer and further enclosed spaces are needed.
An extensive material strategy articulates the programme and environment of the roof and ground planes, while giving the residents of surrounding flats views across these fields of activity.

Christopher Kennedy


Over the next five years London will make a new city within itself for the 2012 Olympics. Glossy renderings promise a thriving urban centre for a perfect global spectacle. Words such as sustainability and legacy constantly remind us of the bright future beyond the two weeks in August 2012. However not far below the surface lie our contemporary anxieties over security, real estate, social mobility, etc… Our project this year was taken directly from the actual master plan for the Athletes village and was developed against two radically different programmatic constraints: a ‘first life’ as the dining hall for the Olympic Athletes during the games in summer 2012 which will later become a school to serve both new and existing communities. The projects addressed the two extreme programs and their social and political contexts. During the Games the site will be one of the most watched spaces and highest security compounds on earth. After the Games, the site will need to reach out and form new connections.

This project explored the potential for creating a new programmatic landscape to stitch the ‘urban void’ between the new Olympic development and Victorian Stratford. A complex investigation into the urban grain played out between a new ground topography of loosely programmed public space and an environmentally and ecologically responsive landscape roof.

Starting with a complex repetitive parametric roof structure the project evolved into a much more contingent and intuitive layered landscape of open and closed spaces, above and below, blurring the margins of architecture and landscape. Both roof and ground developed a non-systematic series of adjustments to this enormous and artificial terrain creating a kind of urban and architectural derive across Stratford’s past and future social context.

This project developed through an iterative dialogue between the digital and the physical. The final scheme has a lightness of touch and poetic sensitivity within an epic rigorous order of structure and ground reminding one of Paul Klee’s Highways and Byways. The project imagines a new public space made of programmes dispersed across new ecologies and encounters – dining, learning and much more.

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2008
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