Less than a year ago, what was once a run down industrial wasteland in East London was the focus of the world, having played host to the 2012 Olympic & Paralympic games. No one could doubt how much the area had benefited from the transformation, but one of the major questions since London won the right to the games was what kind of future legacy would it give for not only the immediate surrounding area but for Great Britain.
The legacy included sport in the country and how the games can benefit people of all ages but also how the park itself can be utilised after the games to support the surrounding area and appeal to visitors as well.
As legacy mode began as soon as the Paralympics finished, the park in turn closed to the public and became a construction site again. As part of this new phase, temporary venues around the park would be removed and new landscaping would be added ready for a phased opening starting with the northern half of the park in just a few months time. The southern half will be Reopened from spring 2014 and the now known Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be open to all.
Since the end of March, there have been organised tours for anyone interested to go to the top of the Orbit in the park and look at the progress around the park. I went on one of these tours towards the end of April to see for myself how much the park had changed since I had been there since the Olympics & Paralympics.
Below is a selection of photographs I took during my visit (visits can be booked through a link on the park website until June 2013)
Those who went to the games last year will remember this area as home to various bars and cafes and more importantly the Riverbank arena which hosted Hockey during the Olympics. This was the first of the temporary venues to disappear from the park landscape. During the summer, this area of the park will open to the public as well as hosting the Wireless music festival.
Again looking north to the north eastern corner of the park. the velodrome sits in the background with the skeleton of the Basketball arena in the foreground. This will be replaced with housing in the coming years. Also visible in the bottom left hand side of the photo is the new cafe being built in the north side of the park (no McDonald’s any more) again this will be ready for the summer.
Those who travelled in and out of the park through Stratford and the Westfield shopping centre will be familiar with this area. The temporary section of the bridge entering the park has been removed as has the temporary water polo arena on the left hand side.
Part of the games legacy plans were to remove the seating wings from the aquatics centre after the games creating a public pool once this area of the park opens up. Most of the seating has been removed with only a small section left now. Glass windows will fill the side walls, creating a large area of natural light to flow into the centre.
This is an aerial view of the southern side of the park, south of the stadium and orbit. During the games, there were picnic tables here as well as a McDonald’s and various other facilities associated with the games. This area will be torn up and replaced with new landscaping, creating more green space in the park.
Although not taken from the orbit, the image below is of the Bell that people will remember being rung by Sir Bradley Wiggins at the beginning of the Olympic opening ceremony. It sits here dormant outside the stadium however does have a future home inside the park in the residential areas.