East Village Plot 26 (2012 Athletes’ Village)

dRMM’s engagement in the redevelopment for the London 2012 Olympics came as an exciting challenge. We were the last architects brought onto the project by developers Lend Lease and thus faced a combination of tight schedules, significant building constraints and complex stakeholder approval processes.

Our response took account of these restrictions, adhered to the urban strategies imposed, then sought to exploit to an extreme degree the opportunities that remained, prioritizing the needs of the end user by maximizing usable space, daylight and layers of privacy. We insisted on a mix of scale otherwise absent from the rest of the Olympic village, providing 242 dwellings that combined vertical three-story houses and apartments going up to ten floors, with apartments ranging from one-bedroom to four-bedroom units. We consciously designed bigger balconies and bigger windows, configured interiors free of long corridors that waste valuable space, devised dual-aspect apartments where ever possible, and opted for an external cladding system in terracotta that provides colour and sustainability, rejecting precast concrete in the process. Finally, we created commercial space at the base of the building, injecting a mixture of use into the scheme, which we feel is vital to any new urban setting.

At every stage we prioritised the needs of the end user – not simply the athletes using the buildings for the summer of 2012 but individuals and families who would be setting up their homes afterwards. The result is a project with its own identity and a series of buildings that can be enjoyed for years to come.

Photography © Alex de Rijke