Gavin Miller lead one of six leading design & architecture teams chosen to develop a competition design for a major new cultural and educational space at London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The competition presented an extraordinarily absorbing design challenge for a high-profile global project, which our team embraced to produce a highly original and competitive scheme.


London Legacy Development Corporation


Cultural Quarter, Stratford


1.8 ha




Competition Nov 2014 –May 2015

We drew on an international collaboration that would challenge certain urban orthodoxies.  We developed a huge range of models and ideas about the nature of the site. Trapped between two identities of landscape and city we grappled with the orthodoxy that the development could not simply be rolled out as a conventional urban grid, a pale imitation of nearby streets,  irrespective of its prominent riverfront position, the context of Olympic pavilions and most significantly the heroic scale of accommodation and volume required from the brief. The peninsula form of the site, isolated and pushing into the centre of the park demanded a much more nuanced and sophisticated sculptural response that would simultaneously embrace ideas of landscape and urbanity. The buildings would need to define a human-scaled sophisticated mix of public spaces, interconnected across multiple levels and allowing a range of programmes. From a distance the buildings should form a much more sculptural ensemble, where similarity and difference could be refined to provide a series of sculptural discrete institutions,  but held within a single piece of landscape composition.  

The early drawings of Ishigami and RCR helped refine the idea of an ascending series of roofscapes, rising from the low sculptural form of the V&A up to the residential towers at the northern end of the peninsula, unified as a single sweeping landscape that responded to the curve of the adjacent Aquatic centre roof.  This allowed every institution to have a presence when approach from the main entrance bridge, and overcoming a key challenge of visually unfurling the collective institutions when arriving at the entrance.

A deep plinth forms a continuous public surface that could connect the different bridge entrance levels and riverside level, shaping different sheltered and open areas suitable for public events.    Below are large open volumes allowing the flexible approaches to plant, servicing and interconnections between institutions; allowing a high degree of autonomy or collaboration.

Waterfront composition - connecting with the Aquatics Centre
Roofscape illustration
Waterfront composition
Waterfront composition
Masterplan plinth
1 / 6 Waterfront composition - connecting with the Aquatics Centre
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Sadler’s Wells
Concentrated within the centre of the complex to address the main civic space, and South Park plaza with animation and evening activity. Occupying and exploiting its key position at the heart of the site and Civic Space, Sadler’s Wells has been designed for both open air and indoor performance. The outdoor performance space dissolves into the interior. The Foyer rises through the building providing a degree of autonomy while connecting the Choreography School and Hip Hop Academy, combining wider public access to the roof with an external performance venue overlooking the water.

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The V&A was conceived as a welcome entrance to the Culture & Education Quarter, and works as the first building to provide a soft wave from the Aquatics Centre to the new roofscape and roof terraces. Multiplicity can be encountered on every side of the building, all the different public spaces provided bring the visitor the opportunity to experience a variety of attractive urban events to share. The exhibition walkthrough, is an an original spiral path which allows for the visitor to participate in the different activities held inside and outside the building.

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4th Institution - Junya Ishigami
The proposed concept for the museum is a great tree that stands on the land. Minimizing the architecture’s contact with the ground, and expanding its area as it rises towards the sky. Like the trees that grow and thrive on earth, this museum also stretches to the sky from the ground. As a result, the ground is freed as an open plaza, while the roof becomes an aerial garden looking towards the sky.

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The UAL building is conceived as a vertical campus, an urban node, at the gateway of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, augmenting the link between the city and nature. Shared activities found in surprising openings and atria between the various programs enhance the perception of the totality of the building, creating a strong sense of belonging in the UAL community.

South West Elevation of masterplan site
North East Elevation of masterplan site
1 / 2 South West Elevation of masterplan site

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