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SPPARC joins our cultural infrastructure discussions

Visual from SPPARC of proposed pedestrianisation of Olympia Way in West London

Principal Trevor Morris of architecture practice SPPARC will be discussing the importance of carefully designed and curated retail, restaurant and entertainment elements across cultural districts at our round table discussions this week.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launching his cultural infrastructure plan, warned that London's number of domestic visitors is waning. This raises the question of how best to attract the crowds - is it high culture or retail with a dash of well-chosen entertainment on the side?

At Olympia in West London Deutsche Finance and Yoo Capital's design team - including SPPARC - is re-inventing the Victorian and Edwardian era's 'people's palace' for the next century, with a focus on new entertainment venues, hotels, retail and restaurants to complement the existing exhibition halls.

SPPARC's Olympia Project Architect, Lucy Holmes explained at our April forum on cultural regeneration: 'the current Olympia is a fortress with very limited space available to those without an exhibition halls ticket. The roads around the site are congested by service traffic, so we are going to locate a service and delivery hub below ground and free up space for visitors on foot. We will create a new public realm 'sky walk' level with roof top gardens, retail and restaurants. A 1500 seat theatre, and a 1,000 seat performing arts venue as well as two hotels - from citizenM and Hyatt - will be added. There is also an outline application for affordable office space and retail on Olympia Way so the public realm is properly activated.'

Bankside in Southwark has also thrived as a rich cultural area based in large part on the international reputations and success of Shakespeare's (and Sam Wanamaker's) Globe, Tate Modern and Borough Market, and it has been sought after as an office location with significant investment from Asian investors in particular. Valerie Beirne, Bankside Urban Forest Manager, Better Bankside, who also works for the Business Improvement District, told Future Cities Forum that among important developments in the area are the lighting and pedestrianising of the quieter streets:

'These are part of the original medieval street plan, and the aim is to draw the crowds away from the centre to promote the whole of Bankside. Creating cleaner air has also been a target with the trial of Metal Box Garden, introducing plants to combat pollution and create attractive public realm,' she said.

Trevor Morriss will be talking about the Stoney Street development in Bankside made up of new retail, cultural galleries and commercial office space on the site, previously occupied by the Vinopolis complex near Borough Market. Known as Borough Yards, it is a £300 million project and includes an Everyman Cinema along with the revival of historic street names - Soap Yard, Clink Yard and Dirty Lane.

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