UCL to open its first School of Design on Olympic Park site

Plans for the “Olympicopolis” cultural quarter on the site of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London are taking shape after the Government pledged £141 million to support the project.

Olympic Park

Source: LOCOG

University College London has announced that it will open its first School of Design on the site, as part of its plans for a new UCL East campus.

UCL says the school will offer “new taught courses in design, alongside research and innovation opportunities”.

The university is also planning other facilities on the site, including the UCL Museum of the Future, which it says will be “a reinvention of the university museum for the 21st century”. UCL says the museum will use “immersive exhibition galleries, collections libraries studio and performance spaces to engage visitors”.

Alongside UCL, The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Smithsonian and Sadler’s Wells are also planning to open new outposts at the London 2012 Olympics site.

Meanwhile University of Arts London is creating a new campus to bring together London College of Fashion’s 6,500 students and staff for the first time in the college’s 100-year history. UAL says the 32,000m2 site will be a “research and education hub for the global fashion industry, near the heart of the East End fashion trade”.

Director of the V&A, Martin Roth, says: “The education and cultural district planned for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has the potential to be one of the most exciting and important developments of our time.

“Our aim is to create a new model for museums of the future, where reserve collections and archives are visible and accessible all of the time, and the public can really be engaged with their national collections. We are thrilled that this project has been given support at the highest level and we look forward to continue working with our partners to make it a reality.”

A design competition was launched in September to find architects, masterplanners, place makers, engineers and landscape designers to work on the site. More than 1,000 international designers have registered for the competition, according to the Mayor of London’s office.

Malcolm Reading Consultants, which is running the appointment process, says the plan is for the winning team to be announced in March 2015.

The Queen Elizabeth site is 227ha, of which UCL will take 4.5ha for its UCL East site. UCL says construction will start on the new campus in 2018.

UCL vice-provost (enterprise & London) Professor Stephen Caddick says: “Our new site will be a beacon of how universities should work in decades to come – outward looking, connected to the local community and providing facilities to businesses to work on-site to bring new discoveries and inventions out of the lab and into the marketplace.”

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, says: “Olympicopolis will create a world class centre for arts and education on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which will generate millions of pounds for East London’s economy and support thousands of jobs.

“It is absolutely fantastic that the Government has confirmed funding for this ambitious project to the tune of £141m, enabling us to progress with detailed plans for its delivery. This is an important milestone in our plans to realise a legacy from London’s 2012 Games that reaps economic and social dividends to last for generations to come.”

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