We also reported in our October Newsletter that new owners had taken over the Olympia Exhibition site. We have now had two consultations on the exciting proposals for this massive site.
The new owners are a German based company YOO, and they have appointed Thomas Heatherwick Studios and SPPARC architecture as their principal architects/designers. Their approach seems to be very positive. The team are anxious to retain all the existing main exhibition venues including the Grand and National Halls. Now that Earl’s Court no longer exists as a venue, Olympia is all the more important and the exhibition market seems buoyant.
However, the new management sees many problems with the present site organisation which is very inward looking and inefficient. They plan to open up the site to provide 24 hour public accessibility and to deal with the huge problems of commercial traffic involved with the exhibitions. For example, at present, there is only public restaurant on the site (Pizza Express on the corner of Hammersmith Road and Olympia Way). The site is vast covering an area similar to Westfield but for much of the year it is closed off and inaccessible. Many parts are Listed but these are often hidden behind excrescences (Often containing plant and equipment) which need to be stripped away.
Our two meetings have taken place in the Upper Pillar Hall on the eastern end. This is a magnificent space similar in scale and character to Cadogan Hall or the Wilton Musical Hall, but it is very run down and in need of tlc. Apparently it was built as a music hall and later as a cinema. The team are keen to restore this to its former glory, but the exhibition halls are the priority and a planning application will be prepared and submitted shortly. This will include some mezzanine decking in the halls to increase capacity and to provide high level viewing of the spaces. The existing services will be replaced and a new services hub and exhibition vehicle access will be provided in an expanded basement.
Plans are at an early stage and the team are keen to involve the local community. We will advise you of any further exhibitions/consultations. The works will have to be phased over several years in order to keep the exhibition halls operational.