11 June 2024

Olympia’s glass canopy completes

the canopy at olympia designed by heatherwick studio credit raquel diniz 1 2560x1708 acf cropped 2 the canopy at olympia designed by heatherwick studio credit raquel diniz 1 2560x1708 acf cropped 3

Heatherwick studio today reveals the glass canopy for the reimagined London Olympia. This architectural milestone marks a pivotal moment in Olympia’s evolution from an exhibition destination, to a global cultural landmark.

Celebrating the original architectural innovation of the 138-year old exhibition halls, designed by Sir Henry Edward Coe, Heatherwick studio’s design aims to enhance the public experience of the revitalised masterplan, creating 2.5 acres of new publicly-accessible open space, packed out with restaurants and bars and a lush roof garden with views over the capital, created for future visitors and the local community to enjoy. 

Thomas Heatherwick, founder and design director of Heatherwick studio said:

“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, work in one of the nearby offices or are simply passing by.”

The canopy consists of five large curved structural steel arches, each with a span of 22 metres. The transparent roof, constructed of 520 rectangular low-iron glass panels, covers nearly 1,000 square metres with a pleated glazing motif inspired by the façade of the Grade II* listed Grand Hall. Paying homage to the barrel vaults, the structure establishes a visual link to Olympia’s storied past while embracing cutting-edge and pioneering design, showcasing sustainable practices that optimises glass panel usage to minimise waste and improve overall material efficiency. 

Situated above ground level, the canopy fans out to form an inviting gesture from afar and is clearly visible from the bustle of Hammersmith Road below, tempting pedestrians to ascend the escalators and investigate. This connection to the street is crucial to opening up the new Olympia and enhancing public access in a distinctive way. 

The mezzanine level will offer public seating amid landscaping, providing visitors and the local community a new perspective through the clear span of the historic exhibition roofs, which have sat above Olympia for so many decades. Forming part of the development, several concepts of premium dining and drinking experiences will bring an additional lifestyle offering, further invigorating Olympia as an animated new hub for the neighbourhood.

Once completed, Olympia is set to become a cultural landmark on London’s map with a live music hall managed by AEG Presents; a prestigious theatre by the Trafalgar Entertainment Group; the Wetherby Performing Arts School, a partnership with The BRIT School, and offices as well as two hotels and 2.5 ha of public space.