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London’s Olympia Embraces Legacy and Innovation

Olympia, London’s most ambitious regeneration project, developed by Yoo Capital and DFL, unveiled its transformative glass canopy, designed by the globally renowned Heatherwick Studio. This architectural milestone marked a pivotal moment in Olympia’s evolution, transforming it from an exhibition destination to a global cultural and entertainment landmark.

London’s Olympia is undergoing a £1.3 billion redevelopment to become a hub for creativity, commerce, and community. The project is designed by renowned firms and boasts a new music hall, a large theatre, a performing arts school, hotels, restaurants, and office spaces. Opening in phases from 2025, it promises to be a global destination.

Yoo Capital, founded by John Hitchcox and Lloyd Lee in 2010, has invested over £2.5 billion into Central London. Specialising in transformational investments, the firm combines creativity with financial discipline, focusing on high social value and financial sustainability across various sectors. DFI is a pan-European private equity real estate platform that specialises in customer-centric real estate and advises global institutional clients, including sovereign wealth and pension funds.

Melding History with Modernity

The glass canopy. Picture credit: Raquel Diniz 

Heatherwick Studio’s innovative design honours the original 138-year-old exhibition halls Sir Henry Edward Coe created. This new vision enriches the public experience with 2.5 acres of accessible open space, complete with restaurants, bars, and a lush rooftop garden offering panoramic views of the city. This space is designed for the enjoyment of both future visitors and the local community.

The canopy itself is an engineering marvel, featuring five large curved steel arches that span 22 meters each. The transparent roof, constructed from 520 rectangular low-iron glass panels, covers nearly 1,000 square meters. Its pleated glazing design is inspired by the façade of the Grade II* listed Grand Hall. The structure not only pays homage to the historic barrel vaults of Olympia but also incorporates cutting-edge and sustainable design practices. The optimisation of glass panel usage minimises waste and enhances material efficiency, seamlessly blending Olympia’s rich history with modern innovation.

Olympia Masterplan

“Olympia was once a people’s palace – a place to come together and experience unusual things. Having lost its way over the years, we’re now working to bring back its original spirit and make Olympia open and available to everyone. At the heart of this mission is the new central canopy. Influenced by the vaulted glass roofs of the original exhibition halls, the new canopy will be the beginning of a world-class public space that’s available to everyone, whether you’re attending a show at the new theatre, working in one of the nearby offices, or are simply passing by,” says Thomas Heatherwick, Founder of Heatherwick Studio.

Enchancing Acess and Experience for the Community

Picture credit: Raquel Diniz

Located above ground level, the canopy structure fans out, creating an inviting sight from afar. Mirroring the arched forms of the Grade II* listed Grand Hall and the Grade II listed National Hall beside it, the canopy is a prominent feature from Hammersmith Road below, encouraging pedestrians to ascend the escalators for a closer look. This street-level connection is essential for enhancing public access to the new Olympia distinctively.

The wide span of the glass ceiling opens the space inside. Picture credit: Raquel Diniz

The mezzanine level will offer public seating amidst lush landscaping, providing both visitors and the local community with a unique vantage point through the clear expanse of the historic exhibition roofs that have graced Olympia for many years. Included in the development are several premium dining and drinking options, introducing a vibrant lifestyle aspect that will enliven Olympia as a dynamic new center for the neighborhood.

John Hitchcox, Chairman at YOO Groupsaid, “Olympia’s transformation is more than a brick-and-mortar project; it’s about cultivating a thriving community. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to collaborate with the renowned Heatherwick Studio on this bold vision and excited to reveal the canopy – the crown jewel of the design. This soaring structure will represent Olympia’s welcoming embrace, encouraging visitors to explore the vibrant tapestry of culture and entertainment woven into the heart of the new Olympia.”

Upon completion, Olympia will emerge as a premier global destination for events, entertainment, and innovation. This extraordinary redevelopment, co-created by Heatherwick Studio and SPPARC, will offer an extensive variety of attractions. The historic exhibition halls will be seamlessly integrated with two luxury hotels, a lively dining scene featuring over 30 restaurants, and a live music venue managed by AEG Presents. Additionally, the complex will house a prestigious theatre by the Trafalgar Entertainment Group, the Wetherby Performing Arts School in collaboration with The BRIT School, and cutting-edge office spaces. Expected to attract more than 10 million visitors each year, Olympia is set to become one of London’s top must-visit locations.