The rhubarb-stained cladding of the Olympic Velodrome.
As the London Prepares test events come to an end, attention has finally turned to the Olympic Games themselves. Since 2005 there has been investment of over £12.5 billion in Stratford and the area around the venues, and the results of continuing improvement can be seen. The development of the park itself has had a big impact on the local community, and so it is essential that the London Legacy Development Corporation is successful in turning the Olympic Park into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park once the Games are finished.
The roofline of the Aquatics Centre, designed by Zaha Hadid.
From the beginning of 2013 construction on site begins again, with a £300 million investment in place to ensure conversion for the long term. The projects will run until Summer 2014, with the first full year of events across the site in 2015. After this, it is expected to attract over 9.3 million visitors a year. The two distinct areas, south and north, will follow separate schedules and have differences.
The south – with the stadium, the Aquatics Centre and the Orbit – will remain an international destination for sports and events after the Olympics. With easy access from Stratford Station and Westfield shopping centre, the open plazas and cafes are intended to create attractive multi-use social spaces surrounding the world class sports facilities.
The north on the other hand – built around waterways, parkland and with 5 new neighbourhoods – will have much more of a focus on community and giving back to the local area. A new school and large volumes of family housing will be created in addition to the business campus in the converted Press and Broadcast locations.
On the tour of the park, we were taken to see the key locations and given a good overview of the legacy which will be left behind. The Olympic Venues are all complete, with only minor landscaping and finishing touches to be done, and despite the pouring rain of an afternoon in May, there was a sense of excitement; how might it feel when 200,000 spectators are filling the venues and making their way from place to place? Plans for the future include a reduction in capacity of the venues with some other significant changes, but hopefully the focus will remain on the atmosphere for people using and living in the area. If space on the site could be found for allotments, pop-ups and other social ventures it would be a fantastic way to begin linking these people into the future of the park, leaving a legacy which benefits everyone.
View of the river, showing wetlands and landscaping.