Geographical Association Olympic Site Field Visit
Today was the prequel to the Geographical Association annual conference. As part of this I attended a field visit looking at the regeneration that is taking place in that part of East London. Below are my notes from the visit.
We began the visit at the ViewTube which is near to Pudding Mill Lane DLR station. This gives a good view across the olympic park, as illustrated by the image below. Inside the ViewTube is a classroom which can be used by schools which is organised by the field studies council.
Main Stadium – the main stadium has a capacity of 80,000 people and is complete and just being ‘wrapped’. The future of the main stadium has been decided and after the olympics it will go to West Ham; however this is currently being challenged by Tottenham in court. When the main stadium was designed it so that after the games the majority of the metal structure housing the seating could be removed leaving an athletics stadium. This was to avoid a ‘white elephant’ like the Millenium Dome, which at the time the Olympic Stadium was being designed had been empty for five years.
Basketball Arena – The basketball arena (looks like a giant mattress); is temporary and is designed to be taken down after the games and moved to a new home.
Orbit – The orbit is a tower designed to be an attraction that will attract visitors to the area after the games. It will be 115 metres high and will have a viewing platform.
There are many waterways throughout the park. However there are flood relief measures further upstream as this area was flooded 11 years ago. During the games the waterways will not have any public access. The main waterway that borders the site is the Lea Navigation Canal which was buit 200 years ago.
Most of the heavy construction material for the olympic site was brought in by rail; the initial plan was to use the waterways but the infrastructure was not ready in time so very little material was actually brought in by boat.
The area that is currently being used to clean soil to remove any chemical residue will be a warm up area for athletes. Most of the soil has already been taken to various locations around the site to provide landscaping.
After the games it is planned that there will be 10,000 homes built on the site.
The Northern Outflow sewer that takes away sewage from London is the only structure that was not cleared from the site. This has allowed there to be a public path through the site for the duration of the construction.
The site of the Olympic Park was home to 250 businesses employing in excess of 5,000, these were all compulsary purchased in 2007.
Only one business has remained local, H. Forman , Salmon Smoking, their previous building was only five years old but it was located in the centre of what is now the main stadium. They have now moved just outside the olympic park, employing 80 people.
The onsite energy centre is a combined heat/cooling/power plant that will meet the needs of the olympic park for the next 40 years it has three boilers using three differet fueal sources, gas, biomass, and biofuel.
The only car park on the site is next to the media centre; everyone else is expected to travel by public transport. There are also two coach parks, one at either end of the olympic park. After the games it is hoped the media centre will become a hub for creative industries.
There are 1 million people living in the four olympic boroughs (the London Borough’s that border the park).
There are approximately 10,000 people working on the park, 25% of these live in the four Olympic Boroughs.
Notes from the Viewing Gallery
Our final part of the Olympic tour involved visiting Holden Point, the Olympic Park Viewing gallery located on the 22nd floor of this block of sheltered accommodation. This gave an excellent view of the olympic park and the surroundings.
The viewing gallery was built in 2005 and was used by the IOC in the prepatory visits before awarding the games to London.
The Westfield shopping centre “Stratford City”, which is going ot be the largest shopping centre in Europe was already planned when the olympic bid was awarded. This will be the largest employer after the Olympics.
The Olympic village will be home to 17,000 athletes during the games, after the games the flats will be retrofitted with kitchens. Half of the flats have already be sold to housing associations, the rest will be sold on the private market. They will be inhabited from 2013, there are over 2,300 homes. There is 10ha of open space in the Athlete’s village.
There is a new school (academy) that will serve as the canteen for the athletes during the games; after the games it will provide the school for new community and some of the existing areas.
We then paid a brief visit to the docklands to look at the large scale redevelopment that this year celebrates its 30th birthday.
I have more pictures from this visit that I will put on Flickr when I get home (currently I am writing this using 3G tethering).