An Olympic Park in transition
During the summer of 2012, I was among spectators fortunate to attend events at both the London Olympics and Paralympics.
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was, of course, the real hub of the drama and excitement that swilled around the capital during that period. Event venues including the Olympic Stadium, Copper Box Arena, Aquatics Centre and Velodrome, were packed to their rafters for the glorious summer of sport two years ago.
A trip back to the park in Stratford this week left me in a somewhat wistful mood, as I looked out at the large swathes of cranes, barriers and building work that currently occupy the skyline.
The Park is very much a place in transition, with a sizeable chunk of renovation due to the creation of ‘TIQ’ – The International Quarter, a project which positions itself as ‘London’s most exciting new business address‘, and one where the first companies are expected to begin moving in early next year.
Whenever I return to Stratford, cranes adorn the Olympic Stadium and work will continue apace as the showpiece venue is repurposed in readiness to welcome West Ham United as new tenants in time for the 2016/17 football season.
The giant ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture, which will provide keen abseilers with a new base to launch from next year, still happily looms large over the place and the wonderfully wave-shaped Aquatics Centre, designed by Zaha Hadid, is now also fully functional to the general public.
So while on one hand it’s a shame to see big sections of the Park in a ‘work in progress’ state – the end results promise much and it will be interesting to see how these ongoing developments eventually shape and potentially energise this area of east London.
But it’s still not as good as 2012!