diamond geezer

 Wednesday, January 04, 2012

London 2012  Olympic update
  The year dawns

There was a time when you could walk along the Greenway near Pudding Mill Lane and not see a soul. Nobody would be up here by the overgrown river, the concrete works and the industrial estate. These days, at least during daylight hours, that same stretch of sewer-top is thronging with people. Some are passing through, but most are here deliberately because the view's changed completely and utterly. The river is buried beneath an access road, the concrete works has become a running track and the industrial estate now supports an international sporting arena. The year is 2012, and London's Olympic epicentre is right here.

They come from all over. A coach full of tourists from East Anglia has parked up down Marshgate Lane, conveniently ignoring the sign saying not suitable for coaches. Another group of tourists are on one of the daily walks from Bromley-by-Bow station, listening intently as the Blue Badge Guide relates the future history of various building sites. Several families have arrived by DLR, pouring down the steps from the platform and through the newly-aligned switchback beneath the railway. Mum and two kids have cycled over from the nicer side of Victoria Park, and are unhappy to find that the cafe isn't open and the viewing platform isn't accessible. Several families are sitting around by the planters behind the View Tube, wrapped up warm and not drinking coffee.

There is much to see. The Stadium looks much as it did this time last year, gleaming white in the January sun. All the final tarting up has been on the inside, invisible from up here apart from the occasional sightline through the grandstand. There's no wrap round the exterior yet, sponsored or otherwise, preferably otherwise. Outside, however, much has changed. The surrounding plaza has been cleared, flattened and tarmacked ready for circulation, catering and logistics. A row of threadbare trees runs along the banks of the City Mill River, seemingly semi-mature, but only because they were transplanted here two summers back. An intermittent, curved row of tall white towers has recently been erected, each with a swirly wind vane on top. And the Orbit is now substantially complete, its red coils towering above a not-yet beautiful panorama. They're still finishing off the observation deck at the top - presumably there'll be some windows at some point - while the stairs down to ground level already twirl invitingly like a helter skelter. [stadium photo] [Orbit photo]

The major recent transformation is on the western side of the Greenway. Here the athlete's training track has been constructed, protected behind the usual razor-topped security fence. This bland oval circuit, and its total absence of supporting facilities, is in stark contrast to the main stadium to the east. But the two are now linked via a bow-shaped canvas tunnel, maybe 200 metres long, rising up to the Greenway and then down the other side. It looks a bit like the awning that might join a country hotel to a wedding marquee, only considerably more substantial. Athletes will pass outside the edge of the tunnel during Games time, following two curving tracks to jog from the warm-ups to their event. Support staff, meanwhile, will be able to cross unobserved inside the tunnel along twin-bore concrete paths. There are no tickets to watch this part of the Games, but it's as essential as all the other backroom areas.

Also new-ish
Old Ford Water Recycling Plant: Further up the Greenway, near where it crosses the River Lea, a new timber building hides within a patch of remaining undergrowth. This is a £7m water treatment plant, designed to transform sewage from the neighbouring Northern Outfall Sewer into water good enough to flush toilets around the Olympic Park. Ticks the sustainability box, big time.
Western Spectator Entrance: The security barrier has now swung closed at what will be the main entrance to the Olympic Park for spectators arriving from Fish Island, Old Ford and Hackney Wick. Cycling or walking through the yellow gateways is still easy, for now, until the friskdown buildings are finally completed and electronic wand-waving commences.
Southern Spectator Entrance: For Olympic spectators arriving along the Greenway from West Ham, a wooden footbridge has been built over Stratford High Street - saves building a new pedestrian crossing. There are no signs that the bridge will have step-free access, so less-fit visitors should find an alternative way to reach their event this summer.
Strand East: IKEA are funding the building of a housing estate on the banks of the Lea, close to the Bow Flyover. The project website describes this area as "post-industrial land", which means the diggers have recently been in and destroyed 10 hectares of rundown warehouses. In its place they intend to create a "thriving new city neighbourhood" with 1200 homes and a Marriott hotel. This is gentrification on a massive scale, less history, more boxes in the sky. But not quite yet. Games-time showground, anyone? [photo]
Three Mills Water Bus Stop: Six months on, there's still no sign of Water Chariots' promised pleasureboat service down the Lea. Maybe they've given up on serving the general public and plan instead to make their fortune shipping corporate clients from Limehouse to the Olympic Park in the summer. Whatever, there's now a very ornate bus stop at the unused pier close to Three Mills, still awaiting its first service. I wouldn't reserve a seat yet. [photo]

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream