diamond geezer

 Thursday, May 22, 2008

London 2012  Olympic update
  The big build begins

Today, under the watchful eye of international Olympic officials, construction of London's 2012 stadium commences. Blimey that was quick. Just ten months ago I was wandering around the Marshgate Lane industrial estate - watching the ducks, admiring the roses and peering into the window of the Mercedes repair shop. And now they've all been utterly swept away in a whirlwind of dumper trucks and diggers, and a global landmark building is about to be erected in their place. It's all kicking off weeks ahead of schedule, even before the 2008 Olympics have begun, following not-quite-one-year of Digging, Demolishing and Design. Sometimes, it seems, project management actually works.

the 2012 Olympic plateau

The transformation is astonishing. What used to be a hilly mound between braided rivers has been summarily flattened, and all that remains of the previous industrial landscape is a single tarmac road snaking across a plateau of barren earth. Raised embankments, a few metres high, mark the egg-shaped perimeter of what will one day be the stadium proper. Outside this proto-arena a brand new water feature has appeared, approximately the size of an Olympic-sized swimming pool but rather more irregularly-shaped and full of muddy liquid. I don't think this hole is part of the final plans, but it certainly looks a lot cheaper than Zaha Hadid's genuine Aquatics Centre planned for the opposite side of the river. Whatever, it is now possible to stand on the Greenway bridge and to imagine what might be about to appear. The great knockdown may be complete, but the grand build up will take considerably longer.

Olympic Works this wayThere are now none-too-subtle hints that this area is evolving from a demolition zone into a building site. Two huge blocks of multi-storey portakabins await the imminent arrival of thousands of construction workers. A big green footbridge crosses Marshgate Lane so that everyone can pass safely from one side to the other without being knocked down by a passing truck. Spiked yellow buoys block off all river access into the site, lest some cavalier boatman might sail in and compromise hard-earned security. And outside, beyond the blue-walled perimeter, numerous newly-erected road signs prepare to direct heavily-laden lorries to one of 14 different entrance gates. The concrete is coming, and the world's athletes will only be 50 months behind.

The latest in my monthly series of photos of Olympic Stadium development
At Anna's insistence, I've now assembled all ten photos into their own Flickr set (the slideshow now runs forwards rather than backwards)
Keep an eye on the East-Olympic area on the Newham Olympic webcam (Warning: Java may stall your computer) (Warning: end result may not be worth the wait)
Sixty Minutes: Rob has assembled a collection of sixty, one minute films (each a 360ยบ panorama shot from a motorised tripod) shot in the area designated for Olympic redevelopment.
And what are Boris's revised Olympic priorities? Lower taxes in Bromley and more kids in Richmond playing lacrosse. And not quite so much regeneration round my manor (damn)

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