London Olympics 2012, IBC/MPC

March 29, 2011

IBC/MPS, (International Broadcast Centre/ Main Press Centre)

The following quotes give a glimpse of opportunities which were on offer for a structure which could bring all Olympic ideals and emotions in play due to impact of  broadcasts for few magical weeks involving almost all the nations and population of the world.

“During the Games the IBC will include a 12,000 sq m catering village serving 50,000 meals per day. There will also be a 200m-long High Street between the MPC and IBC featuring outlets such as banks, newsagents, travel agents and a post office.

The MPC includes 29,000sq m of ‘green’ office space with four storeys of workspace for journalists and photographers during the Games. It has an innovative design that enables the building to be adapted after the Games for either a single tenant in the whole building or on each floor, as well as multiple tenants on each floor. The MPC includes state-of-the-art utilities, power and digital connectivity during and after the Games.”

It saddens me to see this appalling project produced in country which has produced figures like Cedric Price, Archigram team, Rogers and Foster with clear intellectual groundings and built examples. Any good designer would have loved to produce a structure which could encapsulate the key role the modern broadcasting technologies would play and a building to reflect the multi-use and flexibility to match this task.

Cabe in a polite way describes the ‘extraordinary banality of the IBC megastructue’ and goes as far as saying that this could ‘blight rather than enhance the Olympic Legacy.’ They say that their comments about this gargantuan building are not dealing with matters ‘…stylistic but about identity and character, scale, coherence and creation of both medium and possibly long term legacy which is appropriate for this important use.

Unfortunately, after saying all this they have no power to demolish the whole of this disastrous mess, which should have not been allowed to reach this advanced stage of construction in the first place. Their talk of improvements to elevational treatments, drapes of differing colours and transparent screens is unlikely to save us from this blot on the landscape.

After saying all this I have to come clean and say that in my opinion this elevation (as it stands today) showing possibly the most economical ducting solution, waiting for some Cabe approved multi-coloured cladding to hide it, is one of the most exciting and appropriate elevations on the Olympic site and at least manages to indicate the nature and function of this important structure giving a faint glimpse of the lost opportunities.

PS: I was so pleased to notice that the latest photos of this completed building show that my fears of a scheme hiding the ducts in this elevation behind ‘screens’ did not materialize after all. (July 2012)

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