The plans for London’s new cultural quarter in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, East Bank, were revealed this week by London Mayor Sadiq Khan. They represent the largest cultural investment in London since the Festival of Britain and the South Bank.
When young Londoners can access world-class culture and education on their doorstep, regardless of their background more will be inspired to take up creative careers.
East Bank will provide the London College of Fashion with a significant new home. The BBC’s music-recording operations will sit alongside a new Victoria & Albert Museum outpost and a 550-seat Sadler’s Wells theatre. There will be 600 new homes on the site, which is north of the Aquatics Centre.
LDA Design is the landscape architect for the scheme. We are creating public realm which establishes the common ground that unites the very different buildings. It is designed to provide the opportunity for chance exchange and encounter, and a programme of activity curated by the cultural institutions.
Andrew Harland of LDA Design, who also masterplanned the Olympic Park, says: “The public realm of East Bank will provide the Park with a distinct new attraction: a dramatic and sculptural landscape framed by the buildings above. It reflects the strong characteristics of the Park, with a focus on the River Lea.”
A series of concrete terraces gradually rise to provide gentle and inviting routes from the Park up and into the public buildings. Created with the utilitarian materials used across the Park, with seating made of chunky timber, the terraces will be playable to attract families with children. Lovely intimate spaces throughout are defined by strong planting.
The topography is steep enough to suggest a mountainside, and vegetation changes with height to alter the character of the spaces. The lower levels by the river are richly verdant, and planting gradually becomes more sparse and opens out towards the top to create larger spaces which provide for art installations, music, dance, or even outdoor workshops.
LDA Design is part of the design team led by Allies and Morrison. A planning application for the scheme is expected to be submitted in the autumn.