London’s Olympic Park – a future ruin?

Three years ago – with the Beijing Olympics about to start – Evan Davis went for a walk around the 2012 Olympic site with author Iain Sinclair, who was apprehensive and sceptical about the London project.

Now – with the games just a year away – the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme returned to east London for another stroll to see if Iain Sinclair had changed his opinion about the grandest of Grand Projects. They started in nearby Victoria Park.

Link to the slideshow with audio

4 comments to London’s Olympic Park – a future ruin?

  • Carlotta Fontana

    as an architect who cares about the life of people in great cities, I am very grateful to Iain Sinclair for his defence of free urban space against all-devouring “sanitization” by re-development.

  • Janet Mowbray

    Victoria Park is being shrunk in size by an inner parametre fence.
    Due to the 2011 park “renovation” The outer jogging trail is currently being fenced off and the council are planting a wild flower meadow around the whole perimetre. note from the contractors at tower hamlets who I contacted:
    “We do not have a jogging trail within Victoria Park. I presume what you are referring to is the desire lines people have worn into the grass areas. The areas fenced off will become our new wild flower meadows.
    Shane Carroll | Victoria Park Development Officer (Infrastructure) | Parks and Open Spaces”
    The irony/stupidity – just a stones throw from the Olympic sporting stadium yet the park does not recognise jogging as an essential part of an urban inner city park.
    The “desired lines” have now been dug up…and fenced off. (I, along with many others have been using these “desire lines for the past 15 years)

  • […] might also be interested to listen to this audio piece, in which Iain Sinclair talks about the ways in which the Olympics have affected development in […]

  • I have now visited the olympic site three times, each time to go to the Westfield shopping centre – perhaps one of the most mislabled centres in history.

    The experience has been interesting. Approaching by car there is a sense of constant and intense surveillance. A 20mph zone accentuates the feeling of having to concentrate to drive so slowly as the cameras track. This is accentuated by views of the River Lea where frogman and high speed launches patrol and the river itself has been fenced off to prevent rowers, canoes and other boats passing.

    The Olympic buildings look as though they have landed from Mars. Only the cycle track looks attractive with its sweeping curves and wood finish. The pool looks dirty already in a 70s plastic sort of way. The stadium is just a stadium. No Beijing Birds nest here. Nothing fits together and the helter skelter by Anish Kapoor and Arcelor Mittal is a complete disaster. It makes no connection with other structures and almost makes you want to laugh out loud at the design mistake.

    The Olympic village is the sort of housing that people stopped buying in the 70s. More like Cap d’Agde but without the nudists and the sea.

    The park looks shut off, uninviting and all the roads are windswept. The best view is from the shopping centre because as we know these are really the shopping Olympics. Despite only 3 weeks of sport there will be 8 weeks of Sunday Shopping and nowhere will benefit so much as Westfield.

    This is the first Asian shopping mall in the UK. It must be sucking spending out of Newham like a hoover. At the weekends it is rammed, all seats at La Strada taken. People buying rye bread and visiting Waitrose. None of these things were previously possible in Newham. I hope that residents enjoy them as presumably shopping in East Ham is going to be a much reduced experience as the brown pound leaches out to the chain stores and restaurants.

    As an architectural environment the Olympic site is the worst example of public private partnership that one could hope for. There is no sustainability, no liklihood of arriving on foot, no authentic experience, no coherence, no organic evolutionary potential. It is a sanitised secure space where the only life is in the mall and that has been laid on by clone town Britain. Welcome to the Shopping Olympics.

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