By Gary Anderson at the Hospital Club in London 

October 16 - The Broadcast and Press Centres at the Olympic Park are set for a major makeoverThe former Main Press and Broadcast Centres on the London 2012 Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be transformed into a state-of-the-art technological hub for the creative and digital industries after architectural firm Hawkins/Browns unveiled its ambitious plans for the site in Stratford here today.

As part of London 2012's Legacy Programme, the new venture aims to establish one of the largest international data centres in Europe by 2015, while also providing indoor and outdoor green spaces, including allotments, urban orchards and green roofs with insect hotels, providing facilities and spaces for workers and local residents to enjoy.

These will be complemented by a range of retail outlets, which designers say will be focused heavily on local and artisan businesses, such as boutique bakeries and fashion shops, supporting the creative community that will work and socialise at iCITY.

The designs were unveiled this morning ahead of a public consultation event in Hackney Wick this evening, before iCITY will subsequently submit a planning application for transformation works on the buildings next month.

The central hub of the new development will be focussed around the main Main Press and Broadcast buildings used for the Olympic Games last year, as well as a 750 seat auditorium, described as "the handshake between the two work horses of the Olympic Park", by one of Hawkins/Brown's design team.

iCITY's ambitious plans aim to turn the former centre of the sporting world into the centre of the digital and creative worldiCITY's ambitious plans aim to turn the former centre of the sporting world into the centre of the digital and creative world

In all, the three buildings contain over one million square feet of space, and by far the biggest of these is the 850,000 sq ft Main Broadcast Centre (MBC), which already has BT Sport as one of its main tenants, where the media firm has set up three studios, 20 edit suites, three main interoperable galleries, four sports galleries and a 160 strong audience holding area.

iCITY, a joint venture between Delancey, a specialist real estate investment and advisory company, and Infinity SDC, one of the UK's leading data centre operators, proposes to house a number of retail and digital businesses in the MBC.

It will also provide facilities for a joint education venture between Loughborough University and the local Hackney Community College, which will see both institutions working closely together and see apprentices who are working through the Community College simultaneously fitting within the University system.

One of the most striking design elements of the project is the construction of a unique grid-like structure on the east side of the MBC, which held all the broadcasting plant and equipment during the Games last year.

The 16 metre deep structure that runs the full length of the 260m long building will be transformed to provide a platform for individual, small-scale structures, housing start-ups and small local businesses, looking out onto the Olympic Park.

A new yard will be created between the former Press and Broadcast Centres that will be an adaptable space for diverse activities such as film screenings, community and celebratory events.

A model replica on show in London today of the east gantry of the former Broadcast Centre at the Olympic ParkA model replica on show in London today of the east gantry of the former Broadcast Centre at the Olympic Park

The Main Press Centre (MPC), described by Nicola Rutt of Hawkins/Brown as "a really nice industrial looking building" is being subjected to "light touch" design proposals, but the building will have its outer facade transformed by glass panels to let more light in.

This "light touch" approach is being adopted in order to allow future tenants the flexibility to put their own mark on the spaces they rent and according to Rutt "to attract creative people you need to give them the opportunity to be creative."

The auditorium building, which sits between the MPC and MBC buildings, will be used for events such as product launches, conferences and performances.

The designers propose to make the building standout from the two much bigger structures either side of it by making it more "colourful, dynamic and fun" and propose covering the outside facade with a "sponge-like" cladding.

"Hawkins\Brown is proud to be shaping the future of iCITY and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park," said David Bickle, partner at Hawkins/Brown.

"These gargantuan buildings present a huge opportunity to create an entirely new neighbourhood.

"We were given an almost blank canvas to design something that captured and reflected East London's creativity and soul.

"We have taken inspiration from a vast range of sources, but not least the energy of the Olympics.

"We started from the point of reimagining the landscape of the former Press and Broadcast Centres to create a new space that complements the vibrancy of the Park, but also stands out as a distinct community of its own."

Infinity SDC, which says it will develop one of the largest and most efficient data centres in Europe, are the other confirmed anchor tenants so far at iCITY, which has over 40 per cent of space let to date.

"iCITY offers us a truly unique opportunity to serve the growing digital and creative sector," said chief executive of Infinity SDC, Stuart Sutton.

"Today's milestone means that iCITY now has a set of designs that reflects its ambition to create a world-leading digital cluster.

"As part of this process, we have completed our design for the Infinity Data Centre that will sit at the heart of this development.

"Infinity Stratford will offer our clients outstanding service, combined with unrivalled connectivity, power and efficiency."

The London Legacy Development Corporation selected iCITY to transform the Olympic media centre site in July 2012 and the venture promised to deliver economic growth and sustainability for the East London area at the time.

The auditorium building is set to get a "sponge like cladding" makeover to make it "colourful and dynamic" say designers Hawkins/BrownThe auditorium building is set to get a "sponge like cladding" makeover to make it "colourful and dynamic" say designers Hawkins/Brown

Today iCity chief executive Gavin Poole outlined what those proposed benefits would be, claiming that over 6,500 jobs would be created in the local community, while across the UK 9,100 jobs would be created through supply chain effects.

This would translate into an annual gross domestic product (GDP) of £340 million ($545 million/€402 million) locally and £460 million ($737 million/€544 million) nationally, and also predicted that this would see the GDP per job directly generated by iCITY in 2018 equating to £54,900 ($88,000/€65,000) in real 2012 prices, which is approximately 20 per cent above the national average.

"This is a hugely significant moment in the evolution of iCITY," said Poole.

"These new and inspirational designs reflect our commitment and vision to develop a hub for the digital and creative industries on the Olympic Park, supporting the development of East London into one of the world's leading technology centres.

"iCITY's vision is to be anchored in the creativity, energy and innovation of East London, providing state-of-the art infrastructure for the digital and creative industries.

"These designs fulfil that ambition, and are an important step towards delivering the economic and employment legacy from London 2012."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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